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.
Glazes 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.