In 1732 the phrase “hope springs eternal” was first penned. I am hoping spring will bring the beginning of whatever our new normal will be and a bright future for us. The NDPCS board of directors and committee chairs held a board meeting by virtual conference on Sunday, April 11, 2021. A thoughtful and honest discussion about this year’s convention and the future of NDPCS was on the agenda. In our meeting, the NDPCS board, by unanimous consent, voted to cancel the upcoming 2021 convention and events. The health and safety of our members is our most important concern in these uncertain times, and we needed to make a decision to honor that priority. We also discussed the logistical problems in putting a convention together at this time. The NDPCS board of directors and committee chairs will hold a board meeting on Sunday, June 13, 2021, to explore opportunities to award endowments, confirm new board members and officers, and conduct the NDPCS business that occurs at our annual meeting. We will discuss the best method to have our members vote on the board recommendations. We will also begin plans to hold the 2022 convention in Fargo, ND, June 10-12. Commemoratives have been produced and will be mailed to members who have ordered them. More information about that process is included in this newsletter. Thank you to everyone who requested a commemorative and thank you to Convention Chair Nate Leben for his efforts in keeping the commemorative a part of our traditions!
The NDPCS board also discussed the future of NDPCS as an organization. We are not unique among service organizations and societies, challenged to keep our members engaged and committed during a global pandemic. Even though our memberships have remained steady these past two years, we are at an inflection point in our history. All but one of the officers and board member positions expired last year or will expire this year. Officers and board members agreed to extend their terms in this difficult time but now we need you to commit to serve in these positions. Unless interested members of this society are willing to serve as many have done in the past, we will need to discuss ending NDPCS. If we are to keep this wonderful organization alive, we need you to complete the following form electronically or download and return to me via mail, email, or contact me via phone. If there is not enough interest from our members it will be a sign that it is time to end this mission.
Please join me in thanking the members of the NDPCS board for their care and concern for everyone during this difficult time. They clearly love this organization and its members and are deeply concerned about its future. Finally, I need to share my first piece of Rosemeade pottery in an original gift box. From those humble beginnings I became a part of this wonderful group of people.
The Potter's Path Less Traveled
By Nate Leben
“I am a village potter who carried the seeds of what I learned in the 1970’s into a new century. I use a potter’s wheel and native clay to make uncomplicated ware intended for everyday use. The land and open vistas of North Dakota are my inspiration.”
- Robin’s Artist Statement
Last newsletter, we learned a little about our potter for this years commemorative but it was mostly about the commemorative itself and the selection process, so this time I wanted to give a more de-tailed description on the path less traveled Robin Reynolds took and what her life looks like.
A fourth-generation North Dakotan, she was born and raised in Minot, ND, where her great-grandfather started Bacon Signs in 1904; however, she hasn’t always lived in North Dakota. After graduating from Dickinson State University in 1973 with a Bachelor of University Studies, she eventually made her way to Belling-ham, Washington for a pottery apprecticeship from 1979-1982. It was there she was introduced to the indigenous materials of
Mt. St. Helen’s volcanic ash. She said, “It was a satisfying experience that would foreshadow her involvement with North Dakota clay many years later.” After owning and operating Good Earth Pottery in the historic Fairhaven District of Bellingham for 7 years, she decided to move back to North Dakota. She found herself in Hebron in late 1995, where she purchased a Hebron home over the phone (sight unseen) and set up a modest studio and began testing native materials. She sold her first marketable pottery formed with Hebron clay and native slip glazes at the Taylor Horse Fest in 1998. In 2002, Dacotah Clayworks relocated one block away to the retired Texaco service station on the Old Red/Old Ten Scenic Byway.
Robin calls her work “dirt pots” after the bucolic style of Colonial American Pottery. These practical and de-ceptively simple wares, inspired by folk pottery and the land of western North Dakota, have an elegance all their own. Two years ago she started using her basic slip glazes (Teadust, Buttercream, and Amber) as “spongeware”, an antiquated glaze application style. Recently she ran glaze tests with two native clays: a red clay she called “Ketchup” and a vivid ochre she called “Mustard.” Ketchup was the winning formula after she added a dash of Mustard (Mustard is actually called BF Baby S*** - see pic for full spelling).
She has served on the North Dakota Council on the Arts’ Artist-in-Residence program since 2002, and From 2003-2017 she was the Adjunct Ceramics Instructor at Dickinson State University. Currently, Robin has five students who work at Dacotah Clayworks and she is engaged with a local artist in an informal apprenticeship two afternoons a week. To engage others in pottery, next month she is hosting a workshop called Stamps and Spoons, and a Raku party for a small group from Dickinson.
A highlight of Robin’s, last summer she was invited to assist with a MHA clay workshop in Twin Buttes. Alt-hough many creations exploded in the fire, Robin said, “the process was a steep but enjoyable learning curve to make vessels in traditional Mandan ways.” One participant was the great great-granddaughter of the last Mandan potter!
She has received multiple awards to include: 2008 Special Merit Award, ND Parks and Recreation Department 2009 Citation Award, Bismarck Art and Gallery Association 2012 DSU Alumni Fellow
Salesroom: located in a retired Texaco Station on the Old Red/Old Ten Scenic BywayOpen Daily 9:00am - 7:00pm, Sunday 12:00pm - 7:00pm
The original Sundog vessels were designed by Charles Grantier for Dickota Pottery. These commemoratives were made with Hebron Clay; glazed with commercial mid-fire glazes “New Albany Brown” or “Metallic Green” from Minnesota Clay Company; Ap-proximately 3” x 3”and each piece signed with Reynolds HC and RR stamps and NDPCS 2021.
Robin Reynolds opened Dacotah Clayworks in Hebron, ND in 1996 to connect fully with her work as a potter by using native clay. Born and raised in Minot, ND, Reynolds spent her formative
years in the performing arts and graduated with a liberal arts degree from Dickinson State University in 1975. She served a three year pot-tery apprenticeship in Bellingham, WA where she later owned a consignment gallery, Good Earth Pottery, in the historic Fairhaven District. Her experience digging and utilizing volcanic ash from the Mt. St. Helens erup-tion was a turning point that led Reynolds to pursue pottery making with indigenous material. The clay mined and crushed by the Hebron Brick Company is the same material Reynolds processes into a clay body suitable for throwing on the potter's wheel. A traveler in Europe, Scandinavia, Thailand, Greece and Iceland, Reynolds will always call the open country of Western North Dakota home.
UND Curtain Pulls
By Linda Bakken
During the 1930s and 1940s, the University of North Dakota (UND) created a vari-ety of items referred to as curtain pulls, pendants, plaques, or medallions. Many of these were shown in the display of UND pottery during the 2010 NDPCS Conven-tion. Some were made for special occasions or for organizations. Two of the most frequently seen items are the Indian Head and Bison which were modeled after the Nickel traveling trophy.
The trophy was created in 1937 and was inspired by the buffalo nickel. It is very large, weighing 75 pounds, and was awarded to the winning football team each year. Governor William Langer was asked to unveil the trophy in Grand Forks. Shortly afterward, an unidentified student told him “I’ll take care of this for you”, and disappeared with the trophy. It was found 36 hours later on the front lawn of then UND President West. That began a tradition of “kidnapping” or “borrowing” the trophy. It was retired after the 2003 season and is now at the Heritage Center in Bismarck.
The Indian head represented the “Fighting Sioux” (now Fighting Hawks) of UND and the Bison was the mascot of the North Dakota Agricultural College (now NDSU). The medallions were very popular and were punched out in quantity us-ing a mechanical press. They sold for 25 cents each.
Some of these items were made for organizations or special events, The Dancing Norwegians were made for the Daughters of Norway in conjunction of a visit to North Dakota by Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Olav and Crown Princess Martha of Norway on June 6, 1939. One thousand of these were made.
Two of the pendants were made for political groups. Two hundred of the goat pendants were made for the Non Partisan League. One thou-sand elephant pendants were made for the Young Republicans.
Three of the less common items that were on display in Grand Forks were the ballerina, the Scottie dog, and the coyote.
At least three of the medallions were made for organizations. Five thousand Sakakawea medallions were made for the North Dakota Federation of Women’s Clubs. Medallions were also made for the Kiwanas and the Lions Clubs.
References:Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel_TrophyUND - A History and Comparative Study of the Art Pottery Made at the University of North Dakota, Copyright 2004 by Ken Forster, Marlin Media Publishing, Sarasota, FL marlin-media.comCollector's Encyclopedia of Dakota Potteries, Copyright 1996 by Darlene Hurst Dommel, Collector Books, Paduca, KY. Out of Print.Photos by Linda Bakken, Todd Hanson, and Jeremy Dietchman.
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