The History of Arts Limited Pottery
Dickinson, ND. 1975 to 2004
by Arley Olson
With the closing of Arts Limited in Dickinson, ND an era of almost thirty
years of business in artwork; clay, leather, jewelry and stained glass,
came to an end when Mary Huether moved to Oregon. Mary provided us with
a written interview on their work in the pottery area of their business.
Upon Dave’s untimely death, Mary became the sole owner of the business. Mary
also taught ceramic classes at Dickinson State University, Dickinson, ND.
Started in 1975
after a summer of building a facility to house a studio, business and home,
Arts Limited was a dream come true for Mary and David Huether. Both recent
graduates of Dickinson State College, Dickinson, ND. with degrees in art,
Mary and Dave were interested in combining a business which supplied artists
interested in leather, clay or jewelry with the supplies for doing their
artwork while able to do these arts themselves.
The clay work of the business was mainly a wheel thrown type of
product. Functional pieces were consistently made as the bulk of the type of
work produced. Dish sets, casseroles, mugs, tureens, utensil jars, pie
plates, salt, pepper, flour and sugar shakers were just some of the items
made for retail sales. Souvenir type of work included a centennial pitcher
and bowl for Dickinson, sugar jars for Valley City’s centennial and other
custom-made commemorative items.
Clay was initially purchased from Van Howe Clay Works in Denver, Co.
This was a cone 10 clay that had a deep warm brown color and many flecks of
iron. Later clay was purchased from Minnesota Clay Co. and though still a
cone 10 clay it was more gray with less iron flecks. This change allowed the
pieces to be used in the microwave without the body creating heat. Van Howe
Clay continued to be used in small quantities for the recycling of clay that
is normally done with clay work. Other clay used was a grolleg porcelain
which is a white color even in reduction firing.
were developed using formulas pulled from a Daniel Rhodes book on glazes.
The formulas were experimented with and when a glaze worked to satisfaction
a name given to the glaze in the tradition of naming it for a family member
or friend. This was how the colors were developed. A white base glaze with a
cobalt colorant became TARA BLUE – a very intense royal blue color. A creme
base glaze with colemanite as an ingredient with an iron oxide colorant
became JASMINE – a buttery textured glaze with green, beige and blue tones
possible, depending on the reduction and temperature. Other glazes that
never really took on names were the base white, a dark celadon, a matte
brown and a golden brown. The red color is probably the most varied. A blood
red was the most desired result sometimes having blue flecks in it, but in
oxidation a beautiful turquoise blue green was achieved. This color also
produced a mauve or grayish red, though not a color often pursued, it was a
popular color for many decor’s. Our red glaze was the white base with copper
carbonate oxide added. Later a glaze formula with the name Flambe was used.
Some other colors later added were a Tenmoku glaze and an amber celadon
glaze and a shino glaze. These were added by Mary later in the 90’s. Even
these few colors produced a wide variety of different tints and when
layering glazes many tones. Reduction firing and the variation in
temperatures as well as the type of clay also changed the colors.
The signatures for the pieces included a DRH for David Rueben
Huether and a MH for Mary Huether. There were variations in time,
including the addition of one or more stamps made by Dave including –
ARTS LIMITED, POTTERY, DICKINSON, NoDak, ND, family crest and variation
of initials as stamps.
The type of kiln used for firing was a cross draft three burner
natural gas kiln from plans in a book by Daniel Rhodes. It was name Vulcan.
It measured approximately 36" deep by 30" wide. It was rebuilt in 1986 by
Dave and in 1996 by Mary. Mary disassembled it in 2004.