Dominick DeChristopher ~ 
         Two-Time Stangl Designer!!

A brief bio of Dominick DeChristopher...

Like many of Stangl’s most influential designers, Dominick DeChristopher was brilliant and talented beyond the ordinary. His natural talent, combined with formal Fine Arts training from the Art School of Philadelphia and technical engineering degrees acquired while serving in the United States Air Force, made possible his ability to solve both the artistic and technical aspects of any problem. 


Dominick and Dorothy

'Chris', as he was affectionately known, came to Stangl by way of Frank Wheaton and Wheaton Glass. Chris began with Wheaton in 1962 as designer and sculptor, where he designed and sculpted many of the figural Avon cologne bottles, and designed the patented Tums bottle still in use today. He became part of the R&D team at Wheaton’s Decora Division to develop automated printing on bottles, glass and ceramics. 


Rare printed & colored 
Flemington Outlet plate

Shortly after Frank Wheaton purchased Stangl Pottery, he sent Chris to the Trenton factory to try and adapt some Stangl dinnerware patterns to automation. Using a state-of-the-art Murray printing machine from England, Chris successfully adapted the Flemington Outlet plate to automated printing. During the initial development, several samples of the Flemington Outlet plate were created with hand-painted colors added to the print. These are gorgeous, and quite rare! 

In 1975, Chris was forced into early retirement following a series of heart attacks and strokes, but was never forgotten by Frank Wheaton, who held in high regard Chris’ artistic and technical talents. 

When Wheaton’s grandson Bob Shaw began to re-establish Stangl Pottery production in late 1991, Frank Wheaton contacted his designer/engineer friend, and persuaded Chris to help with the 'New Stangl' venture.  Always up to a new challenge, Chris relished being able to advise Bob Shaw on the startup of the entire operation.  Being disabled, Chris was able to carry out from home the researching and sourcing raw materials, colors and glazes, designing and developing lines and pattern motifs and


Chris' Town & Country notes

creating multiple samples, working up trademark logos and advertising layouts, troubleshooting production problems, and even designing the layout of the production facility.  

Chris was offered compensation for his work, but declined, as he felt that simply being involved in the exciting start-up portion of the venture and assisting his old friend  was satisfaction enough.

 


Kiddieware Clown

Bob Shaw’s 'New Stangl' included recreations of original Stangl Town & Country dinnerware, original character wig & hat stands, and an original line of kiddieware patterns with coordinating lamps and flowerpot planters - all of which were designed and developed by Dominick 'Chris' DeChristopher. Original Stangl molds and some of Stangl's original factory equipment was used in the production of this line at Wheaton's Royal Cumberland factory location in Millville, NJ. 


Kiddieware Lamps

Of the many Kiddieware patterns tried, those finally produced and retailed were three-piece sets in the Dancing Bears, Circus Clown, Little Quackers, Dinosaurs, My ABC's and Dolphins. Lamps were ginger jar shaped, and were available in Plane, Cat, Cow Jumped over the Moon, Toy Soldiers, Bunny, Dolphin, and Clown. The planters were 6", and decorated in Train and Kite Flying motifs. 


Persian Princess
Wig & Hat Stand

Using original Stangl wig stand molds from the 1960s, Chris created a line of wonderfully whimsical wig & hat stands. MANY designs were created, some based on true-life characters, others fabricated purely from Chris’ fertile imagination. Some examples were the Three Stooges, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Boop, and the Beatles. He also created exotic personalities including Persian princesses, flappers, clowns, scuba divers, baseball players, hippies, and pirates. Several hundred were produced during 1992, and Chris decorated each one. 

 


Babe Ruth
Hat Stand

The most enterprising item developed by the new Stangl company, was a licensed hat stand in the near life-size form of Babe Ruth. The bust was designed and sculpted by Chris, who also finished, hand-numbered and hand-glazed each one. The Babe Ruth hat stand retailed for $89.50, and could be ordered with a Cooperstown Classic New York Yankees baseball cap for an additional $18.50. Initially intended to be a limited edition of 7500 pieces, only fifty were produced; and of those fifty, only 38 were sold. 

 

 

Sadly, the New Stangl project was not destined to last.... Production was discontinued in early 1993, the end brought about by the problems plaguing all American potteries; foreign competition and high labor and production costs. 

Sadly, Chris passed away shortly after in October 1993. All of his notes, records, molds and samples remained locked away in his design studio for the past 13 years. Untouched by human hands, but with a leaking roof and squirrel infestation, the ravages of the elements have taken their toll...... 


A dusty shelf in Chris's forgotten studio

We have recently been contacted by Chris’s family, and asked to liquidate whatever we could of Chris’ years at Stangl. Digging through the abandoned studio, we uncovered a treasure trove of Stangl History! We literally uncovered samples, original Stangl molds, a few wig & hat stands, and in a damp forgotten corner, covered in plaster dust and clay, was Chris’ attaché case just chock-a-block full of all his notes, sketches, drawings and reference materials - not only from his recent years with Bob Shaw’s Stangl, but also his earlier years at Stangl in Trenton!! 



Chris' attaché

We have been asked to assist the DeChristopher family in liquidating the items from Dominick's studio, so we are offering for sale on Ebay all of the samples, design prototypes, and anything of interest we were able to salvage.  You can find these items under the Ebay id 'h-f-s-museum', so be sure to check them out!

 

 


Just some of the treasures discovered in Chris' studio!

 

Copyright 2006 Robert C. Runge Jr.

 

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