Four Definitions of his life

1875 - 1957
yup, his life story told four different ways by 4 different writers.
#1-quoted from: American Arts and Crafts: Virtue in Design

Ernest Allan Batchelder was a leading designer of the American arts and crafts movement, already well known when he founded his own tile company in Pasadena in 1909. After studying at the School of Arts and Crafts in Birmingham, England, he taught at the Harvard Summer School of Design, organized the Handicraft Guild in Minneapolis, where he taught summer courses, and directed the department of arts and crafts at Throop Poly- technic Institute in Pasadena. He published Principles of Design in 1904 and his numerous articles for The Craftsman were compiled as the book Design in Theory and Practice in 1910. Ever a proponent of putting theory into practice, Batchelder built a kiln behind his bungalow when he left Throop (pronounced "Troop") in 1909. There, with the help of former students, he began making decorative tiles of his own design. This enterprise was timely; Southern California's booming construction industry called for architectural tiles, and his products were much in demand. He moved twice due to expansion, with his largest business site occupying six acres in Los Angeles. Batchelder's products earned a gold medal at the 1915 San Diego Exposition. Like many arts and crafts enterprises the firm was put out of business by the Depression; all of its assets were sold in 1932. Batchelder reverted to a home operation, later moved to a small shop in Pasadena, and continued to make pottery until the early 1950s.

#2-quoted from "Tiles: 1000 years of Architectural Decoration"

Ernest Allan Batchelder (1875-1957) was another important designer of tiles who set up his own company. The Batchelder Tile Company was founded in 1909, but Batchelder had been actively involved in the Arts and Crafts movement long before this date. He had directed the Department of Arts and Crafts at Throop Polytechnic Institute in Pasadena, and written widely on the subject of design. When he left Throop in 1909, he built a kiln behind his home in Pasadena and began to produce decorative tiles. His designs owe much to Grueby and Mercer, but his handling of the clay resulted in tiles with a clearly individual style. Batchelder's floor tiles, for example, are uniformly moulded, and although they have an earthy quality and matte glaze, are more refined than Mercer's. Batchelder's most popular motifs include Mayan designs, birds, foliage and geometric abstracts.

Batchelder architectural tiles met with great success, and the company moved twice, expanding each time. Its tiles appear on the walls and floors of many New York City apartment house lobbies, and can be found in shops, restaurants, swimming pools and hotels throughout the United States. One of Batchelder's last and largest projects was the Hershey Hotel in Hershey, Pennsylvania, built by the famous chocolate manufacturer in 1930, in order to give jobs to many local residents who would otherwise have been unemployed during the Depression. Batchelder tiles were used on the walls, floors and stair risers of a dazzling fountain room, complete with central pool and a mezzanine level. Unfortunately, Batchelder's company, which had employed 150 men at its peak, was itself forced out business by the Depression in 1932, although Batchelder continued to make pottery in a small shop in Pasadena until the early 1950s. In addition to the Batchelder Tile Company, there were numerous other California tile manufacturers. The abundant local clays, inexpensive fuel and power and cheap labour were all factors that contributed to an active tile industry, while the rapidly growing population led to a continual demand for new buildings. Moreover, the most popular local architectural styles, such as Spanish, Mediterranean and Colonial Revival, use large amounts of tile.

#3-quoted from "California Design 1910"

Ernest Batchelder was born in Nashua, New Hampshire. He was educated at the Massachusetts Normal Art School (grad. 1899). He was influenced by the design theory of the Harvard Professor Denman W. Ross, whose ideas form the basis of Batchelder's two books, The Prinlciples of Design (1904) and Design in Threory and Practice (1910)

From 1902 to 1909, Batchelder was Director of Art at the Throop Polytechnic Institute. His summers were spent teaching at the Handicraft Guild Summer Schools in Minneapolis. He taught design theory and manual arts training in both places. In 1905 he travelled in England visiting centers of the Arts and Crafts Movement. In 1909 he set up a kiln in the studio at the rear of his property at 626 Arroyo Drive in Pasadena. Success, and complaints of too much smoke forced him to move to larger quarters "down among the gas tanks" on what is now Arrovo Parkway. More success prompted a further move to a factory on Artesian Street in Los Angeles in 1916. His firm failed during the Great Depression. Eventually, Batchelder rented a small shop on Kinneloa Street in Pasadena and turned out extremely fragile slip cast wares, very different from his earlier work.

In the early years Batchelder designed most of his tiles himself. They were hand molded and fired in a kiln which "permitted us to fire nearly forty six-inch tiles at one fell swoop." Under expanded production the hand-crafting of tiles continued. They were "sun dried in a yard at the rear of the shed where cats and chickens frequently walked over them I offering a pleasing variation of texture.' " Even when he moved to the Los Angeles factory, where conveyor belts took the sand pressed tiles into the vast kilns, Batchelder's motto was "no two tiles the same." At first he worked almost entirely in brown, with blue glaze rubbed into the indentations in vines, flowers, viking ships, peacocks and other animals which Batchelder loved to draw. One critic also noted Batchelder's delight in the California live oak and said, "Perhaps the most noticeable effect of locality is seen in the landscape tiles which speak so charmingly of California."

-quoted from "California Design 1910"

Ernlest A. Batchelder (1875~1957) was one of the strongest design personalities in American art-tile production. Born in New Hampshire and educated in Massachusetts, he also trained at the Birmingham School of Arts and Crafts in Britain. He became associated with various American crafts schools, eventually setting up his own school of arts and crafts in Pasadena, California, in 1909. Although he was a writer and potter, he is best known as a tile designer, one very much influenced by the Gothic Revival and the English Arts and Crafts Movement. Among his distinctive cast-ceramic tiles were images of medievalized lions, Art Nouveau peacocks, leaping hares and deer, and Japoniste trees and landscapes. Although very much akin in spirit and subject matter to the painted tiles of William De Morgan, the relief tiles of Batchelder are very much American, with their strong, moulded-relief designs. By 1930, the fashion for the art tile in the United States had diminished to the point where such tiles were regarded as merely utilitarian objects. The Depression forced many commercial firms to close, with art potters turning to university teaching to ensure their financial survival. Indeed, some American tile-producing potteries are still open -- and studio potters still create lovely tiles -- but there is nothing like the popular demand and consequent mass- production that existed in the six decades encompassing 1870 and 1930. However, the significance of American tiles in the history of tile-making has been recognized and interest in them has grown considerably in the last decade, as several museum exhibitions and commercial publications have shown.

-from some book at the Brand library that I neglected to take note of.

For the FULL story get the ultimate book: Batchelder Tilemaker
Robert Winter's definitive book on Batchelder
It's a must have!

some sample tiles / Catalogue pages / His books / His existing installations / The Chocolate Shop 1909 / The File Arts building 1921 / His Writings / ads

It's a must have!