North Dakota Pottery Collectors Society



Newsletter Excerpts
From the Ap[ril 2018 Edition

Vice-Presidents Message

I just checked the calendar and it says it is spring! Then I checked the weather report and it says colder and snow. The Minot weather man said it will turn colder with rain and snow. As if that isn't bad enough he said you will need more than one hand to count the number of inches of snow that we may get.

I am no weather man, just a simple Norwegian, but I know that when the ranchers start calving and its Easter--most of the time we have bad, wet, cold and snowy weather.

In the last two snows Yuly’s south ranch got about 15" and 8" of wet snow with lots of wind. At Dickinson we got 4 to 5" of snow in each of the two snows, the last one was heavy-wet snow. Bonnie helps me to remove the snow by cleaning up around the edge of the house and so on, while I do the hard work and run the tractor & blower and blow the snow away. I noticed that it was taken me longer than normal to get the job done, as we only have one driveway some-thing was odd. Then I noticed that Bonnie was out in the neighborhood volunteering my services (that is the snow blowing services) so at 5½" driveways I quit. I have handed out a pink slip to Bonnie and am looking for a helper that knows how to use a shovel for next winter.

Check your convention agenda, there is a NDPCS Road Show Friday afternoon and on Saturday there will be a tour of Bonanzaville to see the Sveum Rosemeade collection. Don’t forget the NDPCS Trivia on Saturday.

It has been enjoyable working with you people the past 6 years. Gail, don’t take this the wrong way but you had a way of upsetting me a couple times! It deals with your promises of a RHUBARB PIE that I never got.

By the way my ulterior motive to all this rambling on is that I hope no body will ask me to write another one of these!!

Looking forward to seeing all of you at the convention. Thanks Craig & Linda for chairing the convention. Can you believe it, 2019 and the 30th anniversary/convention is just around the corner. Thank you in advance Ken Metzen for stepping up as convention chairman.

Arley Olson VP & Historian



Raku, "Happiness by Chance"

By Robin Reynolds

Raku grew out of the 16th Century Japanese tea ceremony and the making of tea bowls. Contemporary American raku is a unique interpretation of the Japanese tradition, a style attributed to clay artist, Paul Soldner. The process incorporates dunking glow-ing, red-hot fired pottery into chambers (metal pans/small garbage cans etc.) containing combustibles like straw, sawdust, and paper. The chamber lid is quickly used to douse the flames where the smokey/carbon impregnated atmosphere inside the closed chamber will change the glaze in unforeseen ways. Carbon blackens the unglazed areas of the pottery and creates patterns or contrast between the glazed and unglazed areas of the piece.

Low temperature glaze is applied to pre-fired (bisque fired) pottery. Raku glazes are formulated with low temperature frits or fluxes and a variety of oxides, often cobalt or copper. A typical raku fast firing takes approx. 45 minutes to reach 1,650-1,800 degrees F. The red-hot pottery is drawn out of the hot kiln with long handled tongs by folks wearing heat protective gloves and cloth-ing who place the pottery into the combustion chambers. The pottery can smoke for a period that varies from 15 minutes to overnight, for those who have patience to wait that long! The resulting iridescent colorful glazes can range from "new copper penny" to muted, smoky rainbow colors. There is no guarantee a piece of pottery will not break in this firing technique or that the glaze will develop desired hues, however "happiness by chance" is most frequently the norm.

Raku has the intangible, satisfying qualities of immediacy as an engag-ing, hands-on process. Since it is unknown how the piece will look, it carries a degree of suspense. It is a pleasant social time while the pots are firing or, later, when they are cooling. When conducting workshops, I encounter a few folks who are uncomfortable not to know exactly how their piece will look. In that case, I encourage them to embrace "chance" and enjoy the process.

Editors Note: Reynolds operates Dacotah Clayworks, Hebron ND. Visit for more information and her Raku Event. Raku Workshops MAY-OCTOBER 2018.


Wheat and North Dakota Pottery

By Linda Bakken

Photos by Linda Bakken Arley Olson, and Sharon Smith


The theme of the 2018 NDPCS Convention is wheat which is one of North Dakota’s main grain crops.  North Dakota is number one in the production of hard red spring and durum. On average, the state's farmers grow nearly half of the nation's hard red spring wheat (250 million bushels) and two-thirds of the durum (50 million bushels).  Some of the North Dakota potters used wheat designs on their products.  A selection of these is shown here. 

WPA made these two wheat vases.  The smaller one is 8” tall and is signed with the ink stamp WPA CERAMICS N. DAK.  The larger one is 14” tall and is incised WPA CERAMICS N. DAK.  It is interesting to note that the design on the smaller vase is the much same as the 5 7/8” vase made by Rosemeade.  It is possible that Laura Taylor Hughes designed the vase while she was at WPA and then took the design along to Rosemeade.  WPA made several other wheat vases


WPA vases


Rosemeade vase


Rosemeade made two other wheat vases that had a small difference in designs.  The leaf crossing the stem on the left is in a slightly different position.  The larger one is 9” tall and the other is 7 1/4” inches tall.  Some of them are bottom marked North Dakota Rosemeade, some say just Rosemeade, and a few have incised Rosemeade No. Dak. bottom marks.  They also made a number of other items with a wheat theme. 



UND made numerous items featuring wheat including the North Dakota vase by Julia Mattson which features six different North Dakota scenes around the vase plus a flickertail on the bottom.  Wheat bundles or sheaves were put into stacks which were called shocks back when threshing machines were used. 

Wheat shock





Native American


Ox cart

Prairie Rose



Messer also made a wheat vase which is 5” tall. 



Dickota made wheat sheaf curtain pulls.  The one on the left is marked Dickinson, N.D.  The one on the right is marked Valley City, N.D.  Both have Dickota on the back. 


This curtain pull is made of scoria and has Dickota incised on the back.  


The Dickota Powers Hotel ashtray features a wheat sheaf.

Heads of wheat are shown on the Mandan ashtray by Dickota.



More photos of North Dakota pottery featuring wheat may be found in the references below. 


Collector’s Encyclopedia of Dakota Potteries, Darlene H. Dommel, © 1996 
Collector's Encyclopedia of Rosemeade Pottery, Darlene H. Dommel, © 2000 
North Dakota Pottery, Dickota and WPA, Arley H. & Bonnie J. Olson © 2010
ABCs of Rosemeade, Linda J. Bakken © 2018


Click here for more information about the 2018 CONVENTION


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Last modified:06-22-18