Stan Bitters Thumb Pots: Now Available from Modernica

Stan Bitters Thumbprint Pottery

If you’re at all familiar with Stan Bitters’s iconic work, you’ve probably seen his thumbprints pressed into his ceramics, from planters to wall-length sculptures. His rough-hewn, nature-inspired style is what made his work so unique and integral to the organic modern movement that began in the 1960s. Now, you can take home a piece of this fascinating history when you purchase a Stan Bitters Thumb Pot from Modernica, all of which are still hand-sculpted in Bitters’s Fresno studio.

Original Ceramics by Bitters Sculptor

Photo Credit:

The organic modernist craft movement began in the 1960s and was influenced greatly by the earthy, hand-crafted work of artists like Stan Bitters. Today, his mid-century work is still scattered across Southern California; his timeless sculptures and fountains are now valued as historic masterpieces. Indeed, Thumb Pots and ceramic pieces that were created by Stan Bitters in the ’60s and ’70s are sometimes auctioned today for thousands of dollars.

Modernica Ceramics

Luckily you can find his current pieces right here at Modernica, including Thumb Pots and Ceramic Birdhouses. Get a feel for the organic, rough-hewn quality of his work at our Los Angeles showroom, or visit to order.



May 7th, 2013|0 Comments

Modernica’s 8th Day of Gifting: Stan Bitters Ceramic Birdhouse

Ceramic Birdhouse by Stan Bitters Our multi-colored array of Ceramic Birdhouses will enhance any outdoor space with charming, organic style. To remain true to our quest for authenticity, each birdhouse is hand-thrown in Stan Bitters’s own studio in Fresno, CA.  This is why no two birdhouses have exactly the same shape or size. Each ceramic masterpiece is as unique as the two hands that crafted it.

Four colors are available on our website, while a larger selection of colors at our Los Angeles Showroom. Order today for free standard shipping in the continental USA!

Birdhouse Arrangement from Stan Bitters

  Stand Bitters Ceramic Birdhouses

 *Offer is valid on orders shipping within the contiguous US; deliveries to Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico are excluded.

December 14th, 2012|0 Comments

A Beautiful Flickr Set of 121 Photos of Stan Bitter’s Best Public Works In Fresno California by Jazz Portraits

Stan Bitters is internationally known for his unique sculptures, fountains, and massive installations. While constantly in demand with top Southern California designers and architects, much of his famous works are located in Stan’s hometown and current place of residence; Fresno. The hot and dusty city of the central valley of California.

In a city which is prominently known for agriculture and oil, through the years Stan Bitters has created unique sculptural clay tile wall reliefs for many buildings, clay fountains such as his ‘Dancing Waters’ on the Fulton Mall, and intricate metal sculptures such as the bronze doors for the Saroyan Theater. But perhaps he is best known for his massive colorful ceramic discs and tile works adorning the Duncan Ceramics building.

Please enjoy this extensive slide show of the best of Stan Bitters public works of Fresno by Jazz Portraits on Flickr. Thanks for sharing!

July 16th, 2012|2 Comments

“Mister Big” Revered California Sculptor Stan Bitters Is Crazy About Clay – An Interview By Katie Lockhart – Home New Zealand Magazine May 2012

Modernica is now excited to announce that these iconic birdhouses by Stan Bitters are now available for sale through our website at

“Teacups don’t interest me,” says Fresno-based sculptor and designer Stan Bitters. While to most of us, ceramics mean cups, bowls and vases, household objects are not really Stan’s thing. “I need bigness. I like the large scale of things.” Drawn to clay while studying sculpture at UCLA in the late 1950s (it was cheaper than metal), it wasn’t long until Stan was a complete convert. “I started to do huge wall clay murals, making them on the floor in one piece and then cutting them into tiles, painting and firing them and then installing them.”

Stan’s large textural murals grace the walls of Californian banks, hotels and homes, while smaller works include clay fountains, birdhouses, and unglazed earthenware ceramics and screens. His book Environmental Ceramics even makes a case for incorporating clay into architecture, not just as decoration but as a structural medium.

Clockwise from top left: Birdhouses, Ceramic Hanging Lanterns, Duncan Ceramics, Thumb Pot, Doors of the Saroyan Theater in Fresno. Photos from Deluxe Furnishing Blog.

“There is only one way to discover clay,” says Stan. “Get a ton or two and leap into it. In working with clay as a medium of expression, you must do it with your feet, with your hands, with your heart and mind. Jump into the middle and flail around. Take all the money you can get hold of, buy tons of clay, and wallow in it. Work your way out. Get involved in it. Start at one end and come out the other.”

On a recent trip to Los Angeles, I was lucky enough to visit the modernist home of Stan’s gallerist, Scott Nadeau, which is the perfect showcase for Stan’s work. Intrigued, I asked Stan to explain more about his unique style.

Stan Bitters's sculptural wall art in the lobby of Chicago's Sheraton O'Hara Hotel.

KATIE LOCKHART How did you learn your craft? Were you influenced by any particular ceramicist’s work early on?

STAN BITTERS Having wandered through the education system as a painting major, I was blown away by my encounter with the legendary sculptor, ceramist Pete Voulkos. Exiting San Diego State College after three years, and bored with having consumed so much superfluous education, I felt it was time to move on. It was coincidental that a friend, artist John Baldessari, was applying for entrance to Otis Art Institute and when I asked to go along, we both ended up on scholarships. It was my confrontation with the energy of the pottery department and specifically Pete Voulkos that changed my life.

This photo is of the finished commissioned project that Stan discusses in this article. I had the pleasure of stopping by and meeting Stan when he and his assistant Tom Byran were in Los Angeles putting some final touches on this amazing new sculpture. If you live in Los Angeles the sculpture is at 880 W. 1st Street, Downtown. Go at night to get the real light show!.

KL: You call yourself an environmental ceramicist. Do you know of many other ceramists working in this way?
SB: I think because of what I did and the time period it was done in, my work has created interest in environmental concerns such as landscape and building applications that were not apparent before. I think because of my conceptual and philosophic approach in creating these undertakings, there isn’t another artist that performs in this way.

KL: How did your birdhouses came about?
SB: I picked out a corner of Pete’s studio with a wheel and started to play around. I asked Pete how to throw a closed ball. Without hesitation he leaned over and performed this magic. I later began producing that little statement that became the notorious birdhouse. Along with the development of the birdhouse came the classic thumb pot that many children create in grade school, but when the same activity is done at three to six feet in height, plus the addition of a large plant specimen, it suddenly takes command of the space and we have a living sculpture in a home environment. People can rationalise this kind of cost over a straightforward sculpture.

Stan Bitters, Downtown Los Angeles, June 27th, 2012. Photo by Suzanne Stackle, Modernica's blog editor.

KL:How did you start designing on a larger scale?
SB: The encounter of Otis Art Institute then UCLA in 1958 and ‘59, during the period of art expression and abstract expressionism, laid the groundwork for my future. Arriving back home in Fresno I was immediately hired by the Hans Sumpf Company of Madera, California. Sumpf was the world’s largest producer of emulsified adobe brick and had started to test his production methods of making slump adobe brick. He had just bought a walk-in kiln to fire this new product and was eager to hire a ceramic artist and create a ceramics department – I was given access to 20 tons of clay and told to do something with it. My Germanic background of a strong work ethic meant that I felt compelled to not only do a lot of work quickly for on-the-job experience, but to explore all aspects of the potential of this new medium for the company.

KL: Have you formed strong working relationships with particular architects and interior designers over the years?
SB: I’ve worked with architects and decorators in custom work: formal planters, building murals, tiles for bank fronts and hotel work. All of the tile work was rolled out with a rolling pin, using meat tenderisers from secondhand stores for imprint design and cookie cutters for shape.

Tom Bryan putting the finishing touches on Stan's latest commission. A fountain located at 880 W. 1st in Downtown Los Angeles.

KL: Do you have a work that you feel has been your most successful or defined your career to date?
SB: I was asked to design a textured tile exterior for a savings and loan building that still exists although the original business is gone. The texture on this building design projected out as much as 14 inches. The sheer gusto of a building done this way in the Brentwood area of LA at this time makes it still my most accomplished mural project.

KL:Do you still accept commissions?
SB:Yes, although people always want to relate to something that they have already seen and feel comfortable with. It is therefore always my challenge to convince someone to try something new in direction. In the last three years, I have done some 30 commissions and it always gets down to the client wanting something like I have done before. That is why recently it was so exciting to present several models for a presentation and my client chose something very foreign to what I have ever done. The commission involved white cement columns that have areas of coloured tempered glass inserted within them. The water flows in a continuous sheet gently over the glass with the added attraction of the colored reflective dancing patterns on the ceiling as the big show.

KL:Your own home (featured in Environmental Ceramics) showcases much of your own work. Have you used it as a playground for experimentation over the years?
SB: My home environment that was featured in the book was unfortunately destroyed in a fire but yes, it was most definitely a showcase for my work.

This interview is from Home New Zealand Magazine – April/May 2012

July 5th, 2012|0 Comments

Stan Bitters Featured In Garden Design Magazine As A “21st-Century Caveman” With An Artist’s Touch — June 2012

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Stan Bitters is a 21st-century caveman. In a windowless steel building on an industrial strip of Fresno, California, the 76-year-old sculptor shapes earth, water, and fire into primal ceramic forms. It is a ritual based more on instinct than intellectual precept. “It’s not about thinking about the clay,” he says. “It’s really getting in there and manipulating it—mashing it and beating it—until it produces some feeling of wonderfulness, something earthy and textural.”

Bitters’ art bears the mark of his own two hands, often quite literally. “Stan’s work is special because you can see the process,” says Pamela Shamshiri, a partner at the Los Angeles design collective Commune who has commissioned Bitters’ work for residential interiors, gardens, and the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, California. “I mean, his thumbprints are in it.”

As a pioneer of the organic modernist craft movement in the 1960s, Bitters has been producing rough-hewn ceramic birdhouses, planters, pedestals, mural tiles, totems, boulder walls, and fountains for more than half a century. He has mesmerized architects, landscapers, and collectors from the start but was recently discovered by a hip new audience. Actress Cameron Diaz has a Bitters water wall at her beach house, and Commune commissioned him to create a group of two-story fireplaces that are focal points at the Ace Hotel. – read the entire story here…

This article and slideshow appeared in the Garden Design magazine June 2012 issue as “An Artist’s Touch.” by David Keeps

Big News! Modernica is excited to be offering Stan Bitters’s iconic ceramic birdhouses available for sale through our website and our Los Angeles Showroom.

July 3rd, 2012|0 Comments