Hedi Schoop’s charming ceramic designs spanned figures and home decor

One of the most talented (and imitated) artists working in California in the 1940s and 1950s was Hedwig “Hedi” Schoop (1906-1996). She designed and modeled almost every piece in her line. Though her ceramic creations include vases, plates, bowls, ashtrays and other forms, Schoop’s figurines of men and women are the most popular with collectors.

Hedi Schoop ceramic lady figurine  Flower holder, figure of woman with long light hair and a wide picture-style hat, dressed in ruffled teal off-the-shoulder long-sleeved full-length dress and teal picture hat with scalloped rim, hands clasped in front holding matching basket, all with applied pink flowers, inkstamp underglaze “Hedi Schoop, Hollywood, Cal.,” 11 inches high, $245.

In 1933, Hedi Schoop fled Nazi Germany with her husband, composer Friedrich Hollander, and immigrated to Hollywood, Calif. Schoop amused herself by creating figural plaster dolls dressed in fashions of the day. Upon successfully showing them at the Barker Brothers department store in Los Angeles, Schoop switched to the more permanent slip-cast ceramic medium and opened a small Hollywood studio where she produced and sold her creations.

In 1940, shortly after a move to larger quarters, Schoop began calling her business “Hedi Schoop Art Creations”; it would remain under that name throughout the life of the business. Schoop’s company employed more than 50 workers turned out as many as 30,000 pieces per year in the late 1940s.

Hedi Schoop’s creations are often figures caught in motion – with arms extended, skirts aflutter, heads bowed – and serve a purpose in addition to decoration. She designed shapely women with skirts that flared out to create bowls and women with arms over their heads holding planters. She also produced charming, bulky-looking women with thick arms and legs.

When TV lamps became popular, Schoop used her talents to create them in the form of roosters, Art Deco Tragedy and Comedy masks, and elegant women in various poses.

Hedi Schoop Art Creations used a variety of marks ranging from the stamped or incised Schoop signature to the hard-to-find Hedi Schoop sticker. The words “Hollywood Cal.” or “Hollywood, Calif.,” can also be found in conjunction with the Hedi Schoop name. Items with a production number and artists’ names or initials are also found.

Hedi Schoop ceramic figureFigure of Chinese woman, standing on a round black base, white floor-length skirt, black, white and green blouse with long sleeves flaring at wrists, a white flower in black hair above each ear, right fingers bent to hold a pot with black cloth handle and in same colors as blouse, right leg bent at knee, woman 9 inches high, pot 2 1/2 inches high, 2 pieces, $215.

Hedi Schoop was imitated by many artists, especially some decorators who opened businesses of their own after working with Schoop. Mac and Yona Lippen owned Yona Ceramics, and Katherine Schueftan of Kim Ward Studio used many of Schoop’s designs and today have their own following among collectors.

There were others, but Schueftan lost a lawsuit Schoop had brought against her in 1942 for design infringements.

A fire destroyed the Schoop pottery in 1958, at which time she sold many of her molds and did some freelance work for other California companies.

Schoop retired from working full-time as a ceramic designer in the early 1960s, but her talents would not let her retire from art completely; she focused on her painting throughout her semi-retirement, which lasted until she died in 1995.

It is important to buy pieces marked “Hedi Schoop” or buy from a reputable dealer if you want to be sure you have an original Schoop piece.

Considering the number of products created, it would be easy to assume that Schoop pieces are plentiful. However, surprisingly few are offered at any given time.

Collectors will find Schoop figurines selling for anywhere from $20 to several hundred dollars, depending upon the design and condition. To amass a large Hedi Schoop Art Creations collection will take time, patience, dedication and determination.

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Ashtray, in the shape of a butterfly with spread wings, yellow with gold trim and “eyes” on wings, inkstamp overglaze, 5 1/2 inches wide, $66.

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