Cobalt Blue and Patinated Gold: The Story of Ceramics Atelier Savitorppa 1951-1999

The magic of Ceramics Atelier Savitorppa was born of an atmosphere and unique products created by talented artists such as Saul Nordqvist and Holger Granbäck. This book tells the story of Saul and Holger and their products.

Saul Rinne, later known as Nordqvist, was born in Helsinki on the 17th of August in 1911. His artistic talent could be perceived from a very early age. Saul drew pictures and danced. Saul was trained to be an actor at the theatre school of the Swedish Theatre in Helsinki. He performed in a dance trio around Finland in the 1930s. Saul and his sister Kaarina ended up in the ceramics trade after the war in 1945.

Holger Granbäck was born in Vaasa on the 15th of October in 1927. He had an admiration for "all sorts of cups and pots" and other objects ever since he was a little boy. He wanted to become a singer and therefore travelled to Helsinki, where he met Saul Nordqvist.

Atelier Saul Nordqvist or Atelier Nordqvist Ltd. began to function in Klaukkala in the Municipality of Nurmijärvi, close to Helsinki in January 1951. The enterprise acquired the name Savitorppa in 1967. The styles and production techniques of Savitorppa originate from the 1950s. Use of ornaments, black ceramics, glazing "the colour of the blood of an ox", slender hairlines, decorative motifs, precious metals and gold plating were typical of the products already in the 1950s. Saul’s trademarks - three small roses and the motifs of apples and pears - were in use already then.

Holger Granbäck, who interpreted romantic lied songs in an extremely sensitive fashion, prepared ceramics with a dark, rugged surface, decorated with scarce, sensitive lines. The creations of Saul Nordqvist were delicate and frail. He admired the classic shape and ornaments of Chinese ceramics. Saul believed that every Finn had within himself a romantic longing that created a desire to see beautiful objects in everyday life. The production techniques and designs of Atelier Savitorppa were created by search and trial.

The exhibition of arts and crafts, held in connection with the Savonlinna Opera Festival in 1967, was an important step in Savitorppa becoming a renowned creator of Finnish art handicraft.

Savitorppa was at its best from the 1960s to the mid-1980s. The milieu was enchanting, the products unique, and Saul Nordqvist and Holger Granbäck were extremely attractive personalities. The special atmosphere of Atelier Savitorppa captivated its visitors and constantly attracted new customers. For decades Savitorppa was one of the most important tourist attractions in the Province of Uusimaa and the Municipality of Nurmijärvi. Savitorppa was well ahead of the times as a tourist attraction and a factory outlet of handicraft products especially in the 1960s

Saul once stated that an artist never thinks first whether his product will sell or not. "A beautiful work will always end up selling itself." The design of Savitorppa was classic. The distinctive features were created by ornaments and individuality. Some of the handicraft products were unique, but many were manufactured in series.

Gold plating and patinated gold were specialities of Savitorppa. Some of the most beautiful gold plated objects were a wine decanter and goblets. The vase for a single rose, a sugar bowl and creamer also ended up as a trademark. Some skilful users of the potter’s wheel

at Atelier Savitorppa were Garazim Hansen, Åke Kjellberg and Kauko Forsvik. Proficient decorative painters were Lisbeth Holmström and Eira Savolainen, in addition to Saul Nordqvist himself.

Holger Granbäck deceased at the age of 58 on the 27th of October in 1985. The death of Holger had a strong effect on Atelier Savitorppa, which closed its doors in July 1986. After 10 quiet years Saul Nordqvist decided to re-open Savitorppa in 1996. Kauko Forsvik and some old employees of Savitorppa ran the production.

In the winter of 1999 Saul made a decision to end production at Savitorppa. He handed the name Savitorppa over to Tuire Weiland, an artist whose workshop is located in her home yard in Lapinkylä, Kirkkonummi, close to the border of Espoo. Old and new production of Savitorppa is exhibited there. Saul sold his real estate to Professor Antti Ahlström from Valkjärvi in 1990

On the 1st of September in 2003, some two weeks after his 92nd birthday, Saul Nordqvist died in hospital.

Teksti Markku Jalava ja käännös Ulla Saari. Teksti on 2009 julkaistusta Savitorppa-kirjasta.