Collect what you love, but use it. Make it a part of your story. -Alena Kate Pettitt
Frankoma was the child of University of Oklahoma ceramics professor and artist, John Frank. He loved Oklahoma and the heavy red clay deposits found in the soil. He started an amazing company that produced his ceramics from the 30s all the way until the late 90s. His company produced thousands of designs for working-class families and art lovers. The most special thing about his creations was the love he and his wife, and later his daughters, put into them. This came out in the care of the design and the beautiful glazes. The Franks were strong Christians and ran their business the same way, even coming back from two different fires with lots of faith and prayer. Here is John Frank on the cover of “Pot & Puma,” the magazine of the Frankoma Family Collectors Association at the turn of the millenium (Frank died in 1973).
My parents loved Frankoma too. I grew up with it in my home and when I moved out, one of my first purchases was a set of Prairie Green Plainsman dishes for my little apartment. When I got married we were gifted with more Frankoma and my collection grew. It grew so much that I had to focus only on Prairie Green (which is my favorite color anyway)!
Back in the day, when we still had lots of antique stores, it was fairly easy to pick up pieces all over the West and Mid-west. It is a lot harder now and E-Bay’s prices tend to be higher than the remaining shops, plus there is always shipping and handling. One of the things I used to really enjoy was visiting different antique stores on rainy weekends and finding Frankoma. I had a favorite one in town where the owner called me “The Frankoma Kid!” LOL
I do have other pieces in other colors, but not many. My small Robin’s Egg Blue tea set used to be in my classroom at my school building. When I changed jobs and went to teaching 150 kids in rotations during a normal art day it wasn’t possible to enjoy this in my classroom anymore. There is too much mess and too many people are milling around. Now I enjoy it at home.
I just love this yellow- it is so happy! These pieces were in our first nursery in our first house, making it bright and sunny! Now they are in our butler’s pantry on the washing machine.
We try to use our dinnerware often. It can really elevate a meal!
There is something so special about the rutile glaze of Prairie Green. It has all kinds of changes in it, from light, light green, to brown, to even silver in some of the older pieces! The rutile makes speckles and ombre effects. Different clays made different greens. Different stocks of rutile also acted differently. It can be hard to get a set that matches well, but it all goes together.
When my husband and I married, we moved into an circa 1915 bungalow right by the college we attended. The house was very large and roomy except the tiny kitchen! But I was in love with the kitchen. It had fir cabinets with glass-fronted doors on the top and pull out bins for flour and sugar at the bottom. The sink had a window over it and I filled it with vases of daffodils in the springs. I remember it so well. The cabinet on the right of the sink had our Prairie Green dishes in it. The cabinet on the left had our mixing bowls and other things. I know I have pictures of this, but I can’t find them. Our new craftsman china hutch in the kitchen reminds me of this kitchen so much. It makes me happy we were able to save it.
In our next house, an even smaller bungalow, we had our Frankoma in glass-fronted cabinets again. In this house they are all over! Our main dishes in a regular cabinet (painted blue inside!) our serving pieces in our dining room china cabinet and our tea things in the kitchen china hutch.
We have used all the pieces. Some have gotten broken. This is hard, but we have tried to re-glue where possible and re-use. We have several mugs as toothbrush holders now! What got mostly broken were bowls. It is really hard to find them and they might not quite match, but we do our best.
Here are my momentoes from when I belonged to the Frankoma Family Collectors Association. I had to give this up due to financial problems in the early 00s, but I loved it while it lasted.
Here is my binder with my Association newsletter and memories- it is also pictured above with John Frank on the cover of “Pot & Puma.”
These are my reference books. The orange one is my favorite and the best!
One of my prize pieces, now sadly, the rim is chipped. This ivy vase in the redbud glaze is probably from the late 30s. It belonged to my parents and my sweet mother gave it to me. I don’t know a lot about the lamp except how much I love it! I think it’s Fenton. My sweet mother-in-law got it for me and another that matches it. The phone is a replica.
Here is a whole article from Martha Stewart Living July/August 1997, about collecting Frankoma, written by Margaret Roach. My sweet mother saved this for me and brought it to me when I broke my femur and was bed-ridden in late 2000. The writing and photography is excellent and is the norm for the early issues of MSL. (The new issues have a lot of problems. They are all so forgettable now and sad. I look at one once and don’t feel inspired at all.) Here is the article in its entirety to inspire you just like it did me.
Our kitchen is inspired by our first bungalow kitchen and this David Lance Goines poster has lovely greens that match my Prairie Green/Ada Clay acorn wall pockets by the door.
Here is the writer of the Martha Stewart Collecting article on Frankoma, Margaret Roach, in her home. You can tell she does love Frankoma! This is a sample of the article, in Martha Stewart Living, September 1999.
A lot of our favorite pieces are on display in our home. Including this giant cornucopia that is out year-round.
This very old Ada Clay set of flower rings have a lot of silver-like qualities in the glaze. My husband bought them for me for our anniversary last year. I’ve been trying to find a matching candle-holder, but to no avail!
A fan dancer with a broken foot was a wonderful gift from some friends of ours. She is in the back by a very rare, very heavy, lazy susan serving dish. The bowl and clover dishes in the middle were broken by a dog we once had who drug the tablecloth off the table to eat leftovers! I kept them and glued them.
Probably my favorite statue- the reclining puma. It’s a newer piece and very lovely, although the glaze does not have the dimension of the earlier rutile glazes.
I hope you enjoyed this article! Happy collecting to you from Kansas Street,