Troika face vase, 1960s
Troika had two main ranges of ceramics, the rough textured range and the smooth glazed range. The smooth white surfaces made in St Ives reminded people of the Cornish landscape. Interestingly it is easier to collect the rough glazed wares today, presumably because more was made.
Many of the abstract or stylised patterns, often in sober blues and browns, were popular. The vases, marmalade pots, lamp bases and table-wares, all made from moulds, were quite architectural; some of the patterns seemed cubist. I assume that stylised sgraffito decoration, particularly coloured geometric blocks, was seen as crisp, modern and smart.
Wheal Dream site in St Ives
And gaining high sales and popular success. Partially that was because St Ives had a well-heeled and regular summer tourist trade. And because Troika had contracts with big house and home shops in the cities. Yet when The Wheal Dream site was bought by the St Ives Council, Troika was forced to move out.
The second era (1970-1983) of Troika pots came from Newlyn, also in Cornwall. Illsley and Sirota bought an old salting house in Fragden Place, Newlyn which they had to renovate. The larger premises enabled production to be increased. Orders boomed and more staff were employed. Troika introduced only four new shapes during their time at Newlyn, one of these was the coffin vase which is the most common piece available today, along with the hanging basket and globe. Throughout the decades of operation, however, the designers continued to decorate the objects with earthy, muted colours.
below - Troika square vase