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Livin’ Beauty – Science, Art & Alchemy

Engelbert was born in a small Dutch village near to the Belgian border and from an early age helped his father, the local florist, in their family shop. Plants and flowers were obviously in his DNA as he chose to pursue his studies in horticulture.

However, a fascination with the ceramic pots used by his father to display flowers led him to America, where a chance encounter resulted in him becoming the protégé of a leading ceramic artist from Mexico and the concept of Livin’ Beauty ceramics was born.

It was here that Engelbert learned to master the incredible precious metal techniques, that when fired in the kiln produce mesmerising swirls of colour in the glaze, creating items of truly exquisite exclusivity.

Engelbert expanded his repertoire by studying “Raku” pottery, a Japanese word for Joy. The craqueled effect dates from the 16th century and is said to have been discovered by happy accident when a ceramic potter prematurely opened a kiln and the rapid cooling created a craqueled pattern in the glaze of a tea service being made for the Emperor. 

Englebert spent 3 years in a small farm outbuilding, patiently honing his Raku skills and combining them with smoking techniques discovered by the American artist, Paul Soldner in 1960, that further accentuate the craqueled patterns in the glaze.

It has not been an easy journey for Engelbert. His liquid clay mixes and moulding techniques are not used commercially, and it can take up to 2 months to produce an item. He has had to discover the ideal clay recipes and firing techniques himself through painstaking trial and error. As he says: "Nobody has written a book on how to do this style of ceramics, there was nothing to follow."

His passion has fed his resilience. When many seasoned professionals told him that it could not be done, he carried on regardless.

These days he presents his creations at the prestigious Maison et Objet exhibition in Paris and has received commissions from around the world including the Dutch royal family.

The Creation of Livin' Beauty