Scandinavian Children and The Myth of Nemadji

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From time to time, we come across some very interesting descriptions of Nemadji pottery and its history.

From this point on, I will be sharing those we find.  This one from Ebay conjures up tiny little Scandinavian children working their fingers to the bone, producing Nemadji Pottery. I also especially enjoy the Native American mention.

“Today, many people associate Nemadji Pottery with Native American crafts. This is not the case. Nemadji pottery was actually produced by children of Scandinavian immigrants. Nemadji Tile and Pottery started production in Moose Lake, Minnesota, in 1923. Originally producing Nemadji tile, Nemadji Pottery was produced during the Depression to fuel tourist markets, usually in the western and northeastern United States. The pottery was marketed as “resembling” ancient Indian works. This is when Nemadji pottery became known as “Indian” pottery. Nemadji Pottery was made using clays from the Nemadji River, thus the “Indian” name. Nemadji is a word from the Ojibwa, also known as Chippewa, language.
              Nemadji Pottery is very distinctive in look. It is typified by its “swirled paint” look. This look was developed by Eric Hellman in 1929. Hellman went on to work for Van Briggle Pottery before World War II and opened the Garden of the Gods Pottery in Colorado Springs in 1950.”

 

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Nemadji Collectors

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While I was out and about today I ran into some Nemadji collectors. It’s always fun to hear about found bargains.  It seems garage sales in the Moose Lake area still have lots of “gold” to mine.  Dave and Jeanne told me about a great bargain  they snapped up on a Nemadji Pottery lamp. Listening to their stories…it’s true the early bird catches the worm.  The photos above include the old showroom sign used at the Nemadji Pottery plant in Kettle River. I purchased it when the plant closed its doors for good in 2002.  The pottery plaque was created especially for me.  I use it when I do my presentations about the history of Nemadji Pottery and Tile.  It might just be the last piece of Nemadji to be created.  I have also added a photo of the new art installation in Moose Lake, Minnesota. It represents the amazing history of our little town which is the gateway of the Arrowhead Region.

Garden of the Gods Pottery miniatures

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I love my little Garden of the Gods pots by Eric Hellman. There are also a couple of small pieces of Nemadji. They display nicely.

Moose Lake, Minnesota Artwork Featuring Nemadji

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This is a segment of a new archway that was assembled in Moose Lake, Minnesota this summer by Larson Clayworks .  I especially love this piece of the archway as it honors the history of Nemadji pottery and tile in Moose Lake.  If you visit the city, the artwork is located next to the library.  I would love to see your selfie next to this!

Nemadji Township

 

 

All photos (C) 2014 by Michelle Lee

SIGN

Nemadji Township

 

CLAY

Raw Nemadji Clay, found near Moose Lake, MN

 

 

RIVER

 

Banks of the Nemadji River

We went on a mission to dig Nemadji Clay.  Didn’t have to go far to find it, as the Nemadji River snakes its way throughout Carlton County.  Nemadji Township was the site of an early brick works factory in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.  The clay was easily found.    The old township sign can still be found, although it seems to move around a bit.  Last time I was out there it was on the other side of the gravel road.

Garden of the Gods Pottery Eric Hellman

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Eric Hellman was hired by Nemadji Pottery and Tile to create and design the first line of Nemadji pottery and to create master molds that would set the stage for decades of production for the Moose Lake based pottery. He also introduced the “cold” painting process that gave Nemadji Pottery its unique swirls.hellmanpicx600w

This is a link to newspaper article about Eric Hellman.

to see more of Hellman’s work, visit Broadmoor Pottery

The Myth and Magic of Nemadji “Indian” Pottery

http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Magic-Nemadji-Indian-Pottery/dp/097447990X