Tilgman’s ceramics was a pottery just outside the city of Gothenburg Sweden, operating from c1948-1975. In its heyday it employed about 80 staff.
It was started by Paul Harald Tilgmann (1904-1974) and in its early years was known for animal figurines, but today it is the style developed by artistic director at Tilgmans, Marian Zawadzki (1912-1978), which has come to define the “look” of Tilgman’s output. Most of this work is from the 1950s, and appears soon after Marian started with Tilgman’s in 1953 as a Polish refugee.
Marian developed a technique using a sgrafitto – of carving fine lines into the background of a design through a light coloured glaze, down to a dark grey clay slip. This created a unique textured ground which has become a style associated with Tilgman’s. The decorative elements also appear to outlined with a carved line, and then hand painted with overglazes. Birds, Fish, Flowers, Butterflies and other animals were a common theme.
This style and technique proved to be so popular it was also used by other Swedish potteries for a time – including Alingsås Ceramics and Nila Ceramics (in the town of Alingsas)
At the end of the 1960s and early 1970s, the pottery style produced at Tilgman’s was a darker and more rustic style, popular at the time in Scandinavia. The 1960s works by Marian Zawadzki from Tilgmans in this era often have bold, abstract designs – and although very different from his earlier, more delicate work, are equally as striking.
In 1970 Zawadzki left Tilgman’s Ceramics and moved to Vallda on the west coast of Sweden, not far from Gothenburg where he opened his own workshop, Vallda Keramik.
In 1971-1972 Tilgman’s moved production to Londonderry Ireland, while maintaining a smaller studio in Sweden for some products.
There are a lot of variations of Tilgmans backstamps and signatures, both stamped and hand drawn – some of which you can find here. Sometimes you will also find the Artist signature or initials on the backstamp, or in the case of wall plaques – often initials on the front right hand corner of the piece.
Pieces by Marian Zawadzki will usually be signed “Marian” with a date, without or without “Tilgman’s”
The pieces made and finished in Ireland are stamped “Tilgman Keramik, Made in Ireland”
Im also drawn to the wall plaques produced at Tilgmans in the 1950s and 1960s – a number of Artists working there produced them, below are 2 I found on Etsy:
Shortly after Harry Tilgmann’s death in Helsinki in 1974 the factory closed.