Monday, February 26, 2007

Grandpa Pepe

I got this in the mail today.

It's a Pacific Stoneware wine carafe made in 1970. What makes it special is the name on the bottom, Ted Scarpino was my grandfather. He designed shapes for Laurel of California and Sylvan in addition to Pacific Stoneware. My wife and I have been collecting his ceramic work for the last five years or so. The Laurel and Sylvan items are very sleek and stylish modern dinnerware like these two pieces.

The Pacific Stoneware items on the other hand are all strangely odd items often featuring animals in one way or the other such as the Snooty Hooty cookie jar seen here.

My grandfather had a great number of jobs over his lifetime, often working from home. Among his many jobs he was in the Merchant Marines, worked on the original models for the Spruce Goose, built many of the model ships found in Trader Vic's restaurants, designed and built multiple small boats, puppetry, and all sorts of other animatronics. He also competed in the US Wakefield championships a number of years, but never made it to the Cup. He passed away in November of 2003 and I miss him greatly.

This is the last picture I have of him taken the summer before he died.


Anonymous said...

Your grandfather was a great designer. His orange owl ceramic cookie jar has graced our home for almost 40 years.

It never fails to generate a smile from everyone who sees it.

Anonymous said...

I met Ted and Patricia - drove from California to interview them - when my friend Tom and I were researching Laurel Pottery. We collected ALOT - really way too much of Laurel, the significant portion of which is in entire or near entire sets. Most lines were designed by Ted, as you seem to know. I wonder if you would be interested in obtaining some set or another of of his dinnerware from me. (?) I recently donated all 9 boxes of the Holiday I had to Edith Heath Ceramics in Sausalito. (Holiday was designed by her in '48, not by Ted.) Also, if you want to know anything about the dinnerware...I welcome your contacting me conversation etc. (We were writing a book and a website about Laurel, but a great disaster destroyed most of my best photos and most web pages and thus I became both discouraged, and further becoming too obligated with other work, to rebuild and finish the project.) Did you inherit the experimental pieces he made? Or the set of Brown LIFE he kept in his kitchen top cupboard? Charles and Patricia were so gracious and hospitable to us; we visited about 4 hours or so.
We also had a few phone conversations and a little postal correspondence.
I thouroughly enjoyed Your Grandpa's personality. We had a very enjoyable time. ...I believe you might have emailed me once - some grandchild of his did so.
~Padraig MacRauiri

Padraig said...

Charles Ted Scarpino designed these lines by Laurel of California
PARADE 1950 (reputed from Ted's recollection - ephemera found to corraborate this)
LIVING 1950 was credited to Caleb Jackson, but Ted finished the design and molded them based on Caleb's scetches
LIFE 1953 this is the line that really put Ted on the map in this particular field. He got full credit in advertisments, etc. (It
reapperas as CALIFORNIA CONTEMPO in new glazes c. 1959/60) Very streamlined. Quite Modern for his time. Improved on Russel Wright's AMERICAN MODERN cup - the only referencial shape in this pattern.
SEASIDE a very fluid and original
design quite midcentury modern.
Not derivative-Ted could create Original pieces contemporary but not too closely refering to what other designers were doing.
Artistic Form did not compromise
very practical and comfortable forms; eg: Lid won't fall off inverted pot until 160 +
degrees upside down.
CERAMA-STONE 1957 (introduced in 1956 under name STONE CHINA); his inspiration was his studies of Egypt art forms.
Ted did a few misc. pieces as well.
info provided by
Padraig MacRauiri
(707) 407-9447

caroledemaio said...

Hey there! I have a pic of a Snooty Hooty ashtray for you to add. You may borrow them from this page: or contact me and I can send them your way! Love your Grandpa's stuff.

kelley said...

I found one of your grandpa's mugs at a salvation army. It holds about 20 oz, and the date is 1971--it's well made.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your retrospective of your grandfather and his pottery. I recently purchased a second hand ashtray he made. My husband and I don't smoke, but picked up the piece because we both enjoy it. I would like to send you a few photos of the pottery we acquired so you can see it. Let me know how I can forward you a few shots. Aloha, Debbie