Tamac Pottery was produced in Perry, Oklahoma from 1946 until 1972. It began after World War II with the vision of two young couples, Leonard and Marjorie Tate and Allen and Betty Macaulay. Tamac takes its name from a combination of TAte and MACauly.
Marjorie (Hemke) studied sculpture and design and obtained a degree in art from Brown University. During the war she was a draftswoman and designer of floor coverings. Lee Tate was from Perry Oklahoma and studied business, graduating from Oklahoma A&M College in 1942. Lee and Marjorie met in New York in 1945 while Lee was recuperating after a tour in the Navy. Lee and Marjorie became friends with the Macaulays while in New York. Betty had taken a course in ceramics and Allen was good mechanic. With a shortage of work in New York after the war, the four decided to combine their talents and start a pottery business on Lee’s family property in Perry, Oklahoma.
At first, the business grew rapidly. In the summer of 1948 a 40’ x 120’ quonset building with new equipment was opened on highway 64-77, just south of Perry, Oklahoma. But large-scale marketing and distribution of the ware proved difficult. The Macaulay's sold their interest and returned to New Jersey in 1950. The Tates sold the business to Mr. and Mrs. Earl Bechtold in 1952.
New Pieces were added to the line by Raymond Bechtold, son of Earl Bechtold, who ran the business into the early 1960’s. Again, the business had difficulties financially, and was sold to Joe and Mary Hladik. Their daughter, Lenita Moore, and Mrs. Hladik operated it until it was closed permanently in 1972.
Today, Tamac Pottery has begun to receive much-deserved attention for it's fantastic forms and timeliness in the history of 20th century modern design. Tamac was featured alongside the work of Eva Zeisel and Ben Seibel in the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s 2002 exhibit “Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960.” The catalog of the exhibition speaks of Tamac with regard to “the new taste for ceramics whose organic forms bespoke the informality and expansive sense of enjoyment that postwar consumers wished to embrace.” More recently, Tamac dinnerware has appeared in the 2006 feature film “Stranger Than Fiction.”
Tamac will undoubtedly be regarded historically as one of the most important mid-20th century modern dinnerware designs.
Articles about Tamac Potery:
Mid-Century Modern Dinnerware: A Pictorial Guide, Red Wing to Winfield, Pratt, Michael, Schiffer Publishing, 2003. pps 166-173.
Vital Forms: American Art and Design in the Atomic Age, 1940-1960, Rapport, Brooke Kamin, Brooklyn Museum of Art, 2001. pps 155-7.
Frankoma and Other Oklahoma Potteries, 3rd ed., Bess, tom and phyllis, Schiffer Publishing, 2000. pps 86-96.
The Best of Collectible Dinnerware, Cunningham, Jo, Schiffer Publishing, 1995. p. 127.