Brad Keeler was born in Lincoln, California in 1913 to parents Mary and Rufus B. Keeler.
His first job was for Padre Potteries, and he built his own studio at his home in Glendale and began making what they called "Bradster" pottery, as he was in partnership with a friend named Webster.
In the beginning, Webster was the primary modeler and Brad did the mold work. When it came time to expand Brad rented space from American Pottery in East Los Angeles, and after WWII began, and the Japanese imports ceased, his work sold very well. Even after the war ended in 1945 his business was still going strong, so he decided to expand again and began construction on a factory in San Juan Capistrano.
Tragically, in early 1952, Brad suffered a heart attack at the age of 39. After his death the business floundered and it was forced to close its doors. The factory soon after became home to Twin Winton ceramics and it is now a local landmark.
Even though the company is now gone, its history is still alive as Brad Keeler “Artwares” created many amazing pieces. Not only was he an artist he was also an visionary having discovering the formulation of "Ming Dragon Blood" whichcreated a "true red" glaze.
Brad Keeler pieces will usually have an identifying mark. Often a sticker is present that is black & gold & oval shaped. There are also multiple other marks to look for, including stickers that read "Brad Keeler Artware" or "BBK," an inked or impressed "Brad Keeler" stamp on the underside of the base of the piece, a "Bradster" stamp (which is the earliest incarnation of his work when he teamed up with a friend named Webster) on the base, or it will say "Catherine Keeler." The ladder is found on pieces that were produced shortly after his death during the period in which his wife, Catherine Keeler, attempted to keep the factory running. Lastly, there is usually a number inked or impressed onto the underside of the base that denotes the particular model and sometimes this is the only identifying marking. Another identifying technique is the use ofa skinny white triangular shape on the eyes of many figurines, as to represent a reflection in the eye.