Hyalyn Midas vase

This sophisticated Hyalyn Midas vase designed by Georges Briard is a beauty in matte black and lustrous gold. Produced by the North Carolinian pottery in the 60s, the piece shows two fanciful birds, one in flight carrying an offering of an olive branch and a basket; the other, with a crown and an umbrella, in a royal procession. Georges Briard’s signature is imprinted just behind the royal bird. Midas vases in this condition do not last long.

While the popular conception of mid-century can sometimes be wild and garish, there were designers who created works of great subtlety and grace. Hyalyn could produce both: the exuberantly colorful and the sedate and understated. The vase is 11″ (28 cm) high, 5″ (13 cm) at its widest diameter. It is marked “USA / hyalyn / B6.”

Georges Briard was the pseudonym chosen by the brilliant mid-century designer to add a French luster to his style. Born Jascha Brojdo in Ukraine in 1917, he was brought to Poland in 1921 and emigrated to the United States in 1937 to study and live with his uncle in Chicago. He studied at both the University of Chicago and at the Art Institute. When WWII began, he joined the US Army as a Russian interpreter. His career took off in the 50s and 60s in New York, working first with Max Wille. Wille had a Briard, a herding dog from France. Brojdo took the name and became a design legend. He died in 2005.

Leslie Moody started Hyalyn Porcelain Company in 1946 in Hickory, North Carolina. He and his wife had gained experience at the Abington (IL), San Jose (TX) and Rookwood (OH) potteries. Moody had a long tenure at Hyalyn, working there until his death in 1973. His wife Frances chose the name, using a variation on the word “hyaline,” which means something glassy or transparent. Leslie and Frances produced many of the early designs, but other noted designers were Georges Briard and Eva Ziesel. Hyalyn pieces showed a strong, mid-century modern, Eames-era sensibility. Until the 70s, they used a white, high-fired clay. After 1973, the company changed management and names, producing ceramics in Hickory until 1996.