Visualizing Pacific Pottery – Colors
I thought I would work with a fun dataset for a data visualization project. I collect 1930s California pottery, and I specialize in a manufacturer called Pacific Clay Products. Pacific produced a dinnerware line called Hostessware between 1932-42. My Hostessware collection has about 2,500 pieces in it.
I keep track of my collection in a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet includes the following data (data type): Manufacturer piece number (categorical), piece name (categorical), category (categorical), estimated value (numerical), color (categorical), pattern ID (categorical), count (numerical), and rarity indicator (ordinal).
I have a big website dedicated to California pottery called The Maximalist. I’d like to create a few data visualizations that I can add to my site.
A few potential areas to visualize:
- How many pieces are in my collection by different categories?
- What colors are most commonly found?
- What pieces are more common?
- How many more pieces do I need to have at least eight complete place settings in each color? (I obsess about this one)
- What is the value of my collection?
As I started my sketches, I picked one simple question to focus on: What colors are most common?
I reviewed some of the resource sites to select some appropriate charts for this data and came up with five options: bar chart, pie chart, tree map, ratio bar chart, and word cloud. It seemed a little simplistic, so I added another variable in (category) to make it more interesting. I had two problems: (1) there wasn’t a ton of variation across the categories and (2) I remembered that I had a bunch of items in my dataset I wanted to recategorize. So I abandoned that idea and went back to the first idea.
In order to make it more interesting, I played with using infographics instead of a traditional chart format. Here’s what I came up with for my wireframes (these are high fidelity Adobe XD wireframes based on my site design):
IDEA #1: TREE MAP
The first idea was to use photos of cups to represent the ratio of color distribution. I think this one is the most visually appealing.
IDEA #2: BAR CHART
Still working with ratios, I changed it to a bar chart. #1 looks better, but I think that #2 does a better job of illustrating the distribution of colors.
IDEA #3: PIE CHART
In a twist on the pie chart, I’ve carved up some images of plates to represent slices of the pie. (Only four colors shown for illustrative purposes – there are eight in total.) This chart also does a nice job of showing the distribution (but it might get too busy with eight categories though).