Cloverware by Eva Zeisel
Groundbreaking Designs in Plastic
The present collection of Cloverware demonstrates the emergence of Eva Zeisel’s design ideology, what she described as "the playful search for beauty". Her goal with the series was twofold: to create "free, lively forms in plastic" and to introduce these newly developed acrylics as a suitable material for tableware.
Over time, the vision that Dinell and Zeisel saw in the materials became a reality and these rare early experimental works serve as important foundation for modern design.
During World War II, the Clover Plastics company made windshields for fighter planes and was looking for a new project when the war subsided. Zeisel and the company’s owner, Monroe L. Dinell, experimented with various methods and came up with a new production technique. The process involved several steps. First, Zeisel cut a shape out of plywood which would become the outline of the piece. Next, they laid a flat sheet of acrylic plastic on top of the plywood and warmed the plastic until it sagged. The shape was then formed using an air pump to pull the plastic from below. No molds were used. For the series, Zeisel created fifteen distinctly biomorphic shapes in three richly colored hues.
Zeisel and Dinell worked closely to understand the realities of this new technique. At the time of Cloverware’s debut in 1947, Zeisel saw limitless possibilities within the medium of plastic and went as far as to state, “It is our hope that the aesthetic qualities and the elegance inherent in plastics themselves will soon be appreciated, as they not are in beautiful piece of crystal.” Four works from the Cloverware series were included in the Useful Gifts exhibition at the Walker Art center in 1947. However, due to lack of demand, Clover Plastics discontinued production of the line by 1948. Over time, the vision that Dinell and Zeisel saw in the materials became a reality and these rare early experimental works serve as important foundation for modern design.
The present collection of Cloverware includes prototypes and highly rare works from the series that come from the personal collection of Monroe L. Dinell, owner of the Clover Box and Manufacturing Company, the parent company of Clover Plastics.