Archives for August 2012

Cowan Pottery Centennial Celebration

There’s a lot to be celebrated in the American art pottery sector these days. The Cowan Pottery Museum is currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of this well known and beloved art pottery company. It began this spring and will run through the fall of 2013.

As Cowan Pottery fans know, this American art pottery opened in 1912 and was originally located in Lakewood, Ohio. It mainly produced architectural tiles, but also made a line of vases and bowls called “Lakewood Ware”. This continued until World War I when Mr. Cowan closed his studio so that he could serve in the Army.

Upon his return from war in 1920, he made the decision to move the studio so that he could focus on more commercial designs, which wasn’t uncommon during this period following the war. He employed students from the Cleveland Institute of Art and soon, he was back to the more creative side of American art pottery.

Cowan Pottery was soon gaining recognition and collection awards and eventually, he went international and sold to several retailers in Canada. And just as many companies focused on practical matters following the war, Cowan Party and the rest of the nation began focusing on what would become of their homes, businesses and lives now that they’d been hit by the Depression. By December 1931, the pottery had closed. Fortunately, we’re left with those same original buildings and in fact, one is a museum that houses many of Cowan Pottery pieces. One line includes Victor Schreckengost’s line of Jazz Bowls, which were originally created for Eleanor Roosevelt and can be seen in Cleveland’s Museum of Art.

Naturally, the centennial celebration is an important part of the region’s history.

Among the many celebrations, fans can enjoy events hosted by CPMA, the Cowan Pottery Museum and other regional Arts and Historical organizations. Rest assured – there are many.

August and September brings the opportunity for an art study group in cooperation with the Cleveland Museum of Art and Ingalls Library. The dates run through the end of September and coincide with the special exhibit, “Youth & Beauty: The Art of the American 1920s”.

Also, if you’re going to be in the area on September 9, you might wish to consider the Lakewood House Tour, where you’ll get to see things the public is rarely given access to.

There are also film festivals and other historical events that will coincide with the celebration. Visit the Cleveland Museum of Art’s website for more information on any of the events and exhibit as a whole. Other websites include and You’ll be able to access all of the events from either of these sites.

Trenton Makes Pottery: The Stoneware of James Rhodes

Photo: PhillyBurbs

Many avid art pottery collectors might remember the exciting find in 2000 when builders excavated part of Trenton New Jersey only to find thousands of broken pieces of James Rhodes stoneware. There were remains of gray salt glazed stoneware, including teapots, plates, bowls, cups and much more. Since then, it’s been researched and examined and the findings are nothing short of remarkable. 13,000 sherds and pieces of kiln furniture (items used to help in stacking pots in the kiln during firing) were retrieved from this particular site, where the kiln is still intact, buried beneath the tunnel roadway.

Rhodes was known for the cobalt blue glazes on his art pottery and the familiar signings that included molded faces on the bottoms of his pieces.

Several years later, another discovery was made about a mile away from the original site and it’s since been linked to Rhodes. This only further cemented Trenton’s rich history and reaffirms it was indeed one of the two epicenters of the early American art pottery movement. The first, of course, was -and remains – in Ohio.

The Potteries of Trenton Society has documented more than fifty art pottery makers and manufacturers that dotted the area by the turn of the century and for many years, there were millions of tiles, art pottery, everyday dishes and even fine china that were shipped out of the area for destinations around the country and around the world.

Now, the city of Trenton is preparing for an exciting new show that will last for months.

Beginning September 14th 2012 and running through January 13 2013, the Potteries of Trenton Society will display not only those thousands of pieces unearthed in 2000, but will also showcase more than 50 of the manufacturers that called Trenton home. The “Trenton Makes Pottery: The Stoneware of James Rhodes, 1774-1784” has much in store for area residents and visitors. The stoneware pottery of James Rhodes, one of the few known American stoneware potters of the colonial period, is the star of the exhibit that’s being curated by Richard Hunter, Rebecca White, and Nancy Hunter. Rhodes had a successful pottery-making business on a property adjoining the Eagle Tavern site, where his first boss was creating stoneware. It was all combined later s part of the tavern property.

Visitors can enjoy lecturers and speeches by some of the most well respected archaeological consultants in the nation. In fact, on September 30, Richard Hunter will be the first of those consultants who will address fans of American art pottery.

It truly is a once in a lifetime event and if you’re planning a vacation, this is certainly worth consideration.

A Look at Fulper Pottery

Fulper Pottery has been around since 1814 – and there are millions of fans and collectors around the world. A New Jersey potter, Samuel Hill, had been making pottery strictly for utilitarian purposes – such as storage crocks, drain pipes and other similar pieces.

Of course – and fortunately for those of us who appreciate Fulper Pottery – the decision was made to pursue a more artistic avenue – but that would come later.

It wasn’t until 1858 when Abram Fulper began the process, shortly after Sam Hill’s death, to buy the pottery company. Within a couple of years, he was the proud new owner of one pottery company that focused primarily on stoneware and to a lesser degree, tiles. The years rolled by and Fulper’s sons soon found themselves overseeing their father’s company. By the 1880s, the name changed to Fulper Brothers and, true to the initial functions of the company, the brothers continued with their father’s legacy of stoneware and tile.

Enter the third generation of Fulpers. In 1899, the company’s name was changed yet again to Fulper Pottery Co. The elder Fulper’s grandson, William Hill II, became both secretary and treasurer of the company. He was a recent graduate of Princeton University as well as a veteran of the Spanish-American War. Still, the company produced the same utilitarian household items such as storage jars and cookware.

It was William H. Fulper II who decided it was time to move away from those drain pipes and storage jars and focus more on an artistic approach. The first line was said to be more “casual” than elegant, but it was popular. By the turn of the century, the company’s main pottery, John Kunsman began throwing vases and jugs with a more simple and solid color glaze. They used the sidewalk to display these new offerings and before long, it was winning prizes for its design elements. And the rest, as they say, is history.

Of course, these are but a few of the highlights of this company with an incredibly rich history that’s both fascinating and revealing. For those interested in a deeper understanding of Fulper Pottery, there are several great books on the subject. Also, be sure to check out our Fulper Pottery collection on Just Art Pottery.


8th Annual Potters Market Invitational

Each year for the past seven years, the Mint Museum Randolph hosts an event that brings together North Carolina’s best potters. For one day, sculptures, vessels and art pottery are offered to both collectors and non-collectors to purchase. This year, the date is September 15th. Admission begins at 10:00 a.m. and it runs until 4:00 p.m. Admission is $10 and if you arrive after 2:00 p.m., admission is $8.

It’s an outdoor event and the weather in September is usually spectacular. You’ll also find great deals on those “must have” works of art. There will be plenty of live music and we’re especially excited about the pottery making demonstrations. You’ll have the option of bringing a picnic basket or you can purchase lunch onsite from Delectables by Holly, a local caterer.

This year’s honorary chairperson is Manhattan-born Herb Cohen. This incredibly talented artist began “throwing” on the potter’s wheel at the tender age of six. Naturally, he continued his passion throughout his life. He’s a graduate from the prestigious New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University. He’s had an amazing career in some of the most respected companies, including the Hyalyn Porcelain Company in Hickory, North Carolina. By the late 1950s, Cohen was making his contribution to The Mint Museum as the exhibitions director. He’s credited with putting the American art pottery movement into gear in that regions. For these reasons, and many more, Herb Cohen was named honorary chairperson for this year’s exhibition. The fact that The Mint Museum is celebrating its 75th year is an added sentimentality.

A few of this year’s potters who have their own exhibitions at the event include:

  • Steve Abee
  • Michel Bayne
  • Cynthia Bringle
  • Josh Copus
  • Donna Craven
  • Jeff Dean and Stephanie Martin
  • Judith Duff
  • Steven Forbes de-Soule
  • Terry Gess
  • Bruce Gholson and Samantha Henneke
  • Hiroshi Sueyoshi
  • Liz Zlot Summerfield
  • Tzadi Turrow
  • Julie Wiggins
  • Joy Tanner

This is just a partial list, of course, and you can learn more about the artists and The Mint Museum here.

If you’re planning a weekend getaway, this just might be a fine event to attend. Also, for those wishing to sponsor the event, you can do so by calling Jan Durr at 704-635-7694.