Niloak Pottery was founded in 1909. The origin of the name Niloak is believed to be related to the name of the clay, Kaolin, used to make the pottery. Niloak is kaolin spelled backwards. The company is most popular for its mission swirl art pottery. The introduction of Niloak mission swirl unique blends of blue, brown, gray and white clay represented a significant departure from traditional American art pottery of its time.
Niloak produced mission swirl pottery from 1910 until 1942. Charles Hyten developed the mission swirl line. The early Niloak mission swirl consisted primarily of vases and bowls. Ultimately the Niloak mission swirl line included candlesticks, ewers, mugs, water bottles, lamp bases, and even paperweights.
Most Niloak mission swirl is marked with either the first or second art marks. However some examples of Niloak were marked only with paper labels. Niloak paper labels were commonly round, blue and white stickers. The paper labels were used periodically throughout the teens and 1920s.
Several companies other than Niloak also produced mission swirl art pottery. The most recognized of these companies are Evans Pottery, Desert Sands Pottery, Denver White pottery, Ozark Pottery, and Houghton Pottery. Most of these examples can be distinguished from Niloak pottery by the markings and clay color.
In its later years, Niloak Pottery began production of cast-ware pottery. A popular cast-ware line was called Hywood. Niloak produced Hywood in high gloss and semi-matte glazes and in solid and drip glazes. Niloak produced art pottery until 1946.
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