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Core Record

Collection Crafts Study Centre
Potter Lucie Rie´s Workshop
Description Button mould, plaster, for production of unfired tubular-wrapped type design with hidden shank fixing. Made for Lucie Rie by Rudolf Neufeld to her design.
Part Of Series One of a group of five
Id Number Current Accession 2002.14.4.1-2
Inscription 120 incised on edge
Location Creation Site London, Wales or possibly Devon
Subject ceramics, mould, button mould
Measurements 3.7 x 16.5 centimetres - Measurement applies to each half of the pair
Material plaster
History Lucie Rie's Buttons: the role of Rudolf and Nichie Neufeld
A note based on Rudolf's reminiscences

'Rudolf Neufeld came to England from Vienna in 1939. Later that year he met and married my aunt Eunice (Nichie) Grose, a fashion artist.

In 1940 Rudolf was interned and sent ot Australia. In 1941, on his return to England, he sought work through the Quaker Refugee Committee, and was sent to Albion Mews. He was then involved in making buttons for Lucie on two occasions - first in the second half of 1941, and again in 1945-48.

In 1941 Lcuie was making buttons for the fashion firm Bimini. They were dissatisfied with her output, and Mr Schenker (Mr Lampl's partner at Bimini) recruited Rudolf to work with her to speed up production. At that time Lucie was making buttons individually by hand, and Mr. Schenker's idea was that Rudolf should make moulds, so that the initial stage of the work could be speeded up. Lucie was not happy about this, and made it clear to Rudolf that his presence was not welcome. Some three months after Rudolf's arrival Lucie had to go into hospital, and in her absence, he took over the whole process of button-making. On her return, Lucie was pleased with his work, and accepted his continuing involvement, including the use of moulds. At this time, Nichie was also recruited to work at Albion Mews. (This account differs somewhat from that given by Tony Birks in his book 'Lucie Rie' [ page 38], but is based on Rudolf's personal recollection.)

This phase of Rudolf's involvement lasted about eight months, and ended with Lucie's departure for essential war work. In 1943 Rudolf and Nichie bought a small farm in West Wales; however they remained in touch, and Lucie twice visited them there.

The second phase began in mid-1945 when Lucie was released from war work and decided to return to button-making. Rudolf travelled to London from Wales and spent 10 days helping to re-start the operation, including the making of fresh moulds. At the end of 1946 Rudolf and Nichie moved to a larger farm near Ilsington in Devon.

In both Wales and Devon, Rudolf and Nichie were involved in the actual production of buttons. Rudolf made a duplicate set of moulds from buttons supplied by Lucie, and he and Nichie (mainly the latter) pressed and fettled them before sending them to Lucie for glazing. This continued until 1947-48, and I myself well remember helping with pressing and fettling during school holidays. We still call the room in which the buttons were made "the button room".

Nichie died in 1993, and Rudolf in June 1998, leaving 26 moulds, five of which have been donated to the Crafts Study Centre.

Shirley Rowcliffe (May 2002)
Rights Owner Mrs. Yvonne Mayer/Crafts Study Centre 2004
Style Period Period 1940s
Technique press moulding



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