Gene Stratton-Porter made the Limberlost Swamp famous in her novels. Gene’s writings
influenced several generations of people from all walks of life in a number of countries. Because Gene paints Limberlost as a magical place, some even today believe that it was a place born of her imagination. Not so, the Limberlost Swamp was once 13,000 acres in Southern Adams County and Northern Jay County. Today, 1800 acres have been returned to wetlands.
Clarise Cliff, of Tunstall, England was ten years old when “A Girl of the Limberlost” was first
published in 1909. She was inspired by Limberlost. Clarise would grow up and become one of
the most influential and renowned ceramic artists of the 20th century. A ceramic pattern created in 1932 by Clarise would be called Limberlost.
Clarise had a similar background as Gene. She came from a large family that lived in a small
village of Tunstall. She would have a productive career and marry a successful man who was a
number of years older than herself.
The modern Jazz Age and the Art Deco style influenced her designs, but her Bizarre patterns and shapes were all from her own creativity. She called it Bizarre as she said, “because it is intended to surprise people.” In 1930 she stated, “Women today want continual change, they will have a color and plenty of it. Color seems to radiate happiness and the spirit of modern life and movement, and I cannot put too much of it into my designs to please women.”
The 1930s was a busy and creative time for Clarise. She loved nature and taking long walks in
the woods. This was reflected in her art. Her landscape designs became some of her best known works of art and are very collectible today. In 1932 the pattern “Limberlost” was one of these landscape designs. It was a tree with tan foliage and white flowers, with a green plain
Clarice’s career as a ceramic designer was just beginning when Gene died in a car accident in
California. Her mentor, Colley Shorter, was the owner of the pottery in which she worked. For
over twenty years, she devoted herself to her career. In 1941, Colley and Clarise married. Today, there are Clarice Cliff Clubs in a number of countries and her pieces are considered works of art. A number of her pieces are in museums. In her lifetime, she created over 2000 patterns.
If you would like to learn more about Clarice Cliff, go to: www.ClariceCliff.com There are
several good books about her life and her art. I enjoyed reading “Clarice Cliff: The Art of the
Bizarre” by Leonard Griffin.