Tuesday, February 28, 2012
The New Face of Boehm Porcelain
Remember the television electric shaver commercial in which the guy said "I like the shaver so much I bought the company?"
Sharon Lee Parker is a bit like that. She bought Boehm Porcelain in Trenton, NJ two years ago when it was in danger of closing American operations. Here is her story.
Sharon Lee Parker Carries the Banner of Boehm Porcelain Around the World
By Skip Sheffield
Sharon Lee Parker knows about matters of life and death. When she was diagnosed with two kinds of cancer and a brain tumor ten years ago she refused to accept a death sentence. She lived to write about her miraculous recovery in the book “Look Out Cancer, Here I Come,” now in its third printing. She has been an inspiration to more than 1,000 cancer survivors as their “coach.”
When this Boca Raton grandmother of four learned her favorite fine American ceramic company, Boehm Porcelain, was being threatened with closure she pooled her resources and bought the 60-year-old Trenton, New Jersey company.
“I walked into the factory three years ago to buy a Hope Rose, and people were crying,” she recounts. “America’s finest art porcelain company was either closing or production would be outsourced overseas. I felt this cannot happen to this American legacy. There were no heirs interested in continuing the company, so I assumed the debt and we kept the doors open.”
Boehm (pronounced “beam”) was founded in 1949 by sculptor Edward Marshall Boehm and his wife Helen.
Boehm Porcelain rapidly became foremost among the finest art porcelain in the world, with uncanny delicate detail and texture of flowers and natural objects.
E.M. Boehm died in 1969, but Helen Boehm soldiered on as the face of Boehm Porcelain, with a staff of fine artists designing new pieces fired in giant specially-made kilns in Trenton.
Helen Boehm was a longtime winter resident of Florida. As an avid collector, Sharon Lee Parker became a close personal friend of Mrs. Boehm.
“I used to visit her in her apartment in the Trump Tower in West Palm Beach,” Parker reveals. “She got cancer and died a year ago this February. I attended her wake in Palm Beach and her funeral in New Jersey.”
As the new face of Boehm Porcelain, Parker realized she had big shoes to fill. She was more than up to the task.
Sharon Lee Parker travels America and the world as the number-one promoter of Boehm Porcelain and American hand-crafted art.
“I feel I have a very honorable tradition to uphold,” declares Parker. “Every President since Eisenhower has been presented Boehm Porcelain. I personally presented President Obama with a Boehm American Eagle. I considered it a finest hour when I presented a Boehm to Pope Benedict this summer.”
E.M. Boehm is so highly regard by the Vatican in 1992 a wing of the Vatican Museums was named in his honor; the first time in 500 years an American was so honored.
Prince Charles is a Boehm collector. So is his mother HRH Elizabeth II. When William and Kate were married, Parker gifted them with a Boehm.
Locally Boehm art is available at Best Wishes in Fifth Avenue Shops. Parker often has pieces commissioned for charitable causes. The Hope Rose and Life Lover Lily benefit Parker’s favorite cause, cancer research and her Life lover Foundation. Currently artists are designing a one-off piece to benefit Boca Ballet.
“No two pieces are exactly alike,” Parker reveals. “Sure, people can buy ceramic objects cheaper at K-mart or Wal-Mart, but Boehm is real hand-crafted art. Boehms are like adult toys. There once were hundreds of American fine art porcelain companies. Boehm is the last one. We can do it. We have the talent. I guess I’m having a love affair with America.”
Sharon Lee Parker can be reached personally at Sharon@boehmporcelain.com.