Lisbet Jobs was a ceramist and textile artist. She was the first woman to fire her ceramic works in her own electric firing kiln, thus making her a pioneer in the field. As a textile artist she will always be associated with the so-called ‘Jobstrycken’ (Jobs prints), textile designs which she and her sister Gocken Jobs created for Jobs Handtryck.
Lisbet Jobs was born in Falun in 1909. She came from a family with a lot of artistic talent. Her parents were Anders Jobs, a musical director, and his wife Elisabet Wisén-Jobs. Of their seven children all but two engaged in artistic ventures. The inspiration behind the sisters’ choice of profession lay in part in their mother’s habit of embroidering silken and woollen flowers directly onto cloth. Lisbet Jobs’ parents got divorced when she was 15 years old and consequently she and her three youngest siblings moved to Stockholm with their mother.
Lisbet Jobs trained at the Högre konstindustriella (advanced industrial design) school (later the Tekniska skolan) in Stockholm. In 1930 she graduated as a qualified ceramist. In 1931 she became the first woman to establish her own ceramic workshop with a firing kiln in Stockholm. Although her earliest exhibitions were held in 1932 and 1933, her actual breakthrough came in 1935 when she exhibited at Galerie Moderne in Stockholm. From that time onwards Jobs’ ceramics became well-known.
The critics acclaimed Lisbet Jobs’ originality and fresh approach to form and decoration. The shapes of her bowls, dishes, and jugs resemble traditional earthenware crockery and some of her decorations stemmed from popular ceramics, such as her use of glazed or pipeclay white details on a reddish-brown base. It was, however, largely her floral decorations which resounded positively with the public – particularly on decorated tiles – as seen on her floral bowls, dishes, jugs, and free-standing figurines. The artistic expression of the decorations’ uniquely lyrical nature imagery was most distinct against a white base. Lisbet Jobs used the ‘sur-cru’ painting method, namely by painting directly onto the unfired white under-glazing.
Lisbet Jobs quickly became one of the most acclaimed ceramists of her era. Several of the traditional handicrafts in Sweden's shops wanted her ceramics to complement their other products. Her ambition to work with ceramics as a permanent aspect of interior decoration led her to start decorating tiles for use on smaller tables and as placemats. The majority of her motifs were plants, flowers, and foliage. Gradually her sister Gocken Jobs also came on board. She began to work in her older sister’s workshop after she had completed her training as a ceramist.
The sisters worked side-by-side throughout their artistic careers. They drew flowers in a very similar manner and sometimes their individual work is so similar in terms of form and themes that it can be hard for the untrained eye to determine who made what. They used the same clay from Uppsala-Ekeby, but can sometimes be distinguished through their use of different glazing methods. Lisbet Jobs tended to use a creamy white tin-glazing in order to emphasise the white details. Sometimes the works can be identified through their signatures. Lisbet Jobs tended to sign her works as “Jobs”. Before 1935 this tended to be printed and followed by a full-stop, later it was written cursively, sometimes in mirror-writing which came naturally to her given that she was left-handed. Meanwhile, Gocken Jobs often signed her work as “G. Jobs” or even with her name in full.
The sisters were keen to work on much larger-scale items in addition to their everyday ceramics. Lisbet Jobs created – both independently and jointly with Gocken – wall decorations and fountains for public and private spaces that were based on tiles. Their largest creation was a mural involving 600 tiles with coloured flowers on a white base for the HSB building at Flemminggatan 41 in Stockholm. This was a joint project that was completed by both sisters in 1940. Lisbet Jobs produced two further public pieces in Stockholm, that is the lobby at Hantverkargatan 7, which was completed in 1936, as well as the Tösse bakery walls on Karlavägen 77, completed in 1942.
Lisbet Jobs – either independently or in collaboration with her sister Gocken – displayed ceramic works in several international exhibitions, including the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris, and the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, as well as the 1939 international Golden Gate exhibit in San Francisco. The journal Arts and decoration made the following appraisal in conjunction with the 1939 World’s Fair in New York: “She is recognized today as one of the best modern potters in the world”.
Initially the workshop also provided a retail outlet. Once Lisbet Jobs had acquired a shop on Norrlandsgatan 17 in Stockholm she registered the Jobs Keramik och Textil company in 1934. Her mother, Elisabet Wisén-Jobs, managed the place, selling her own and her daughters’ products. This continued until around 1942 and was then transferred to Västanvik, Leksand, where Lisbet Jobs and her family had moved in 1943. They had erected a workshop with a firing kiln where the two sisters could work. Several Jobs family members joined them and Västanvik became the home base of what became known as the Jobs artist camp.
Since the 1940s the Jobs name has mainly been connected to the two sisters’ heavily floral textile patterns. It was Astrid Sampe, a former fellow student with Lisbet Jobs and head of Nordiska Kompaniet's (NK) textile section, who suggested that the sisters should transfer their patterns onto textiles when the outbreak of the Second World War meant that it became harder to access glazes. This turn meant that the two sisters set off in a new artistic direction as textile artists. NK launched these textile works at a 1945 exhibition called När skönheten kom till byn where 18 Jobstryck pieces were displayed for the first time. Erik Ljungberg in Floda printed the patterns for the metred cloths sold by NK’s textile section, whilst the sisters’ brother Peer Jobs was responsible for printing his sisters’ aprons, head-scarves, and textile pictures. Their mother’s embroidery as well as woven fabrics by another sister, Gitt Jobs-Hidle, were also displayed at the exhibition. Musicians led by the composer Lille Bror Söderlundh (Lisbet Jobs’ husband since 1939) performed at the exhibition opening.
From the 1930s onwards Lisbet Jobs had provided illustrations for the press as well as postcards. She wrote and illustrated the children’s book Lasse, Lina och Jonas, published in 1942. She also contributed illustrations to Sommarbarn, which contained ten children’s songs by Bertil Almqvist set to music by Lille Bror Söderlundh, published in 1949, and Malgomaj och Nattavind, from 1950, by Gun Nihlén, which had music by Lille Bror Söderlundh.
1800-talet, a figure-based motif which had previously featured in her ceramic work, was one of Lisbet Jobs’ textile designs displayed at the NK exhibition. The patterns Liljor och akvileja, Blomsteryta, Sommarkransar, Jobsbarnen, Per och Stina, Småkrukorna, Leksandsgirland and the carpet called Duvorna were also part of the exhibition. In other words the various types of pattern which later influenced her artistry were already there: large-scale plant motifs with up to 1 metre pattern spans, figure-based patterns, and the small-design textiles.
Lisbet Jobs was very active during the second half of the 1940s. During this period she created around 30 textile patterns. Small-scale Swedish floral designs appear on a range of head scarves, table runners, table cloths, and hangings bearing names including Flora, Haväng, Humle, and Pratensis. Other patterns contain carefully drawn miniature flowers in the shapes of wreaths or hearts or strewn across the material. Her motifs were not only floral, as she also borrowed others from her surroundings. Småkrukorna, from 1945, and Keramik, from 1949, used various ceramic objects whilst her own children were used as models for Jobsbarnen (later known as Sommarbarn), from 1945, Per och Stina, also from 1945, and Lek, from 1949. Lisbet Jobs’ most prominent large-scale design using plants is Aurora from 1956.
Jobs Handtryck was one of the main producers of the Jobs sisters’ textile designs, apart from the textile patterns which were solely printed for NK. Peer Jobs had established Jobs Handtryck in Västanvik in 1944. In the beginning he cut linoleum which he printed on material according to his sister’s models, but later he adopted a film printing method. The term Jobstryck initially solely referred to designs created by Lisbet or Gocken Jobs but has subsequently come to include anything printed by Jobs Handtryck, regardless of who was responsible for the design.
Lisbet Jobs created a total of around 40 patterns for metred textile goods. As already noted, many of these bear descriptive names, such as Fågelbon, from 1949, and Lingonkrans, from 1960. There were also a number of patterns for pictures, head scarves, small cloths, and place mats. Ceramic output was continuously maintained albeit sometimes at a more intermittent rate. Lisbet Jobs’ last known ceramic works date from the early 1950s at a time when she was testing a variety of single-colour glazes.
Lisbet Jobs died in Västanvik in 1961 as the result of cancer. She was only 51 years old. Evidence of her breadth of artistry lies in the archives of the National museum (sketches and some textiles). The National museum also holds extensive written material from her company Jobs Keramik och Textil. Items of her ceramic art are owned by the National museum in Stockholm, the Röhsska museum in Gothenburg, and in international collections.