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Rose Cabat


Feelie Bottle

3.5 x 2.375 x 2.375 in.
Museum Permanent Collection

Rose Cabat, an American studio ceramist, was part of the midcentury modern movement. She was best known for her innovative glazes on small thin-walled porcelain vases she called “feelies.” These are often in the shape of onions, figs, cucumbers, pears, and tomatoes. Many have glazes also named for fruits, vegetables, or flowers: onionskin, cucumber, apple green, malachite, olive, and lavender. The top opening is often so tiny it won’t even hold the smallest reed; they offer beauty for beauty’s sake, without functionality. Cabat was open about her construction techniques, but when she developed a silky satiny glaze that made the feelies so distinctive, she never revealed her formulas.

Rose Katz was born in Bronx, New York, and married Ernest “Erni” Cabat in 1936. She began working in ceramics in 1940, after her husband brought home some clay from his job as an assistant to an Austrian potter and sculptor. This sparked a passion that continued unabated for the rest of her life. She learned how to use a potter’s wheel at Greenwich House Pottery in New York. In 1942 the couple moved to Arizona, where Rose made coil pots until Erni was able to convert a washing machine into a potter’s wheel. Eventually, she acquired a Randall kick wheel, which she used to the end of her life. Erni ran the business and weighed out the glaze components, while Rose was the creative artist. She continued to work in her Tucson studio until the end of her life, averaging five pots per day. In 2015 she was the oldest known practicing pottery artist in the United States.

Billie Sessions, PhD

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