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antique roadshow pottery/ n.dakota school of mines

updated mon 24 apr 06

 

Steve Slatin on wed 19 apr 06


Susan --

It's a state school, with a long and honorable
tradition in mining (& other engineering
disciplines), and (for many years) pottery. See
http://www.und.edu/dept/undclay/
for more info. The few pictures seem to show
that it was largely a woman's department.

The school put out lots of good deco styled
stuff. The head of the department, Margaret
Cable, was a powerful figure and real influence
on studio pottery styles in the US back in the
'20s and '30s.

(Cable herself was trained at the Handicraft
Guild of Minneapolis, so there's a Minnesota
connection there as well.)

-- Steve Slatin

--- Susan Nebeker
wrote:


> And I'm very interested in knowing more about
> The School of Mines. A place for study of
> geology? Who owned it- a mining company? If
> so, did they actually develop an instructional
> potter studio? So intriguing and I'd like to
> know if any Clayarter knows anything about this
> place.
>
> Susan Nebeker
> Canby, OR
> www.pollywogpottery.com
>

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Susan Nebeker on wed 19 apr 06


Mary & Wes wrote: *The thing to keep in mind is
that they were developing bodies from the clays in the area the styles were
right in line with cutting edge for that time period, and some of the glaze
work IMHO nicely done, but my taste may not be yours. Some of the prices
did make me want to run for cover, but this pottery would be of interest to
people from that area and know the history of what was going on at this
school. The Archie Bray story fits in very well with this.*


Yes, I'm sure that the novelty of the locally mined clays would make the pieces desireable to some collectors. It's difficult to believe that anyone would be so enthusiastic about locally mined clay, that they would pay $600.00 to $2,000.00 a piece for those pots. All but two were most definitely "student pots" (the grandmother's work), though the two made by the instructor were charming.

And I'm very interested in knowing more about The School of Mines. A place for study of geology? Who owned it- a mining company? If so, did they actually develop an instructional potter studio? So intriguing and I'd like to know if any Clayarter knows anything about this place.

Susan Nebeker
Canby, OR
www.pollywogpottery.com





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Vince Pitelka on mon 24 apr 06


> And I'm very interested in knowing more about The School of Mines. A
> place for study of geology? Who owned it- a mining company? If so, did
> they actually develop an instructional potter studio? So intriguing and
> I'd like to know if any Clayarter knows anything about this place.

I remember hearing about the historic School of Mines pottery when I was
teaching at NDSU in Fargo from 1991-94. It was the School of Mines at the
University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, up on the Red River south of
Winnepeg. It was a going concern making Arts and Crafts Movement pottery
around the turn of the century (19th to 20th). The wares were very
collectible fifteen years ago when I first heard about them, and I remember
talking to people who had picked up pieces at local flea markets and
auctions. Remember that Newcomb Pottery was (or became) part of Tulane
University in New Orleans about the same time, so at the start of the 20th
century it wasn't that uncommon to have an Arts and Crafts Movement
commercial pottery associated with a University. But in this case, there
are vast amounts of clay deposits on the Great Plains in western North
Dakota, and that was certainly within the area of study of the School of
Mines at UND. The universities in North Dakota always have been and still
are looking for ways to vitalize or revitalize the local economies, and so
at that time, it was a logical extrapolation to take what they knew about
geology and sedimentology to make pots from clay and glazes from minerals,
and use that information to start a commercial enterprise employing local
people.

In the warm season (I think that was usually about a week in the middle of
July) when I was teaching at NDSU, I would take frequent trips 330 miles
across the state to escape the flat tedium of the Red River Valley and enjoy
the beautiful scenery in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the North
Dakota Badlands. There's a lot of clay in that landscape, including amazing
beds of "popcorn bentonite" that bulge out of the cliffsides after a
rainstorm and then dry out and crackle to create the appearance of grayish
popcorn.

Way out on the Great Plains in western North Dakota you also find Hebron,
the "Brick City," location of a huge brick factory that still ships brick
all over the midwest and elsewhere in the country - all of the clay is mined
locally.

Well, that was quite a bit of stream-of consciousness reminiscing -
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Appalachian Center for Craft, Tennessee Technological University
Smithville TN 37166, 615/597-6801 x111
vpitelka@dtccom.net, wpitelka@tntech.edu
http://iweb.tntech.edu/wpitelka/
http://www.tntech.edu/craftcenter/