Leather Tray by Kay Whitcomb


Item: Leather Tray by Kay Whitcomb

Artist/Maker: Kay Whitcomb – Perhaps the most unique San Diego enamelist (compared with the Woolleys, Barney Reid, Phyllis Wallen, James Parker, Margaret Price, and Margaret Montgomery Barlow), Kay Whitcomb achieved national recognition and won consistent awards for her work over the latter half of the twentieth century. Her work often featured fanciful figurative elements, strong geometric structure and words, phrases and quotations. Whitcomb’s unique aesthetic, combined with many innovative techniques like her chemical crust, put her in a class by herself. She studied at RISD and Cambridge School of Art, apprenticed with Doris Hall in 1946, and began teaching at the Art Center in La Jolla in 1956. The first enamel teacher in San Diego, she remained in La Jolla until 1991 when she returned to Massachusetts. Whitcomb was a board member of the Southern California Designer-Craftsmen and the San Diego Art Guild (president 1968-69) and also a member of the Allied Craftsmen of San Diego. She was a founder of the Enamel Guild West and made many trips to Europe where she was guest artist at Gustavberg, Sweden, in 1969 and Crahait, Belgium, during the early 70s.  These industrial residencies allowed her to develop singular methods for architectural enamels.

Description: Tooled by hand, with Kay Whitcomb’s distinctive geometric designs, this wet-formed leather tray represents Whitcomb’s facility in a wide range of materials. Not just the enamel she’s known for. It is a great object that comes directly from her studio, with a strong 1960s period vibe but probably dates to the late 1950s. Clearly signed underneath. Whitcomb made a variety of objects with leather, including other trays and handbags but this is the only leather object that will be available from her estate.

Dimensions: 9 1/2 in. x 19 in. x 7/8 in.

Condition: Excellent

Price: $850

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