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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Tagged art pottery, art work, Carlton County, cold painting process, Eric Hellman, Garden of the Gods pottery, Larson Clayworks, Minnesota Pottery, Moose Lake Minnesota, Nemadji Pottery, Nemadji River
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.
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!
All photos (C) 2014 by Michelle Lee
Raw Nemadji Clay, found near Moose Lake, MN
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.
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.
This is a link to newspaper article about Eric Hellman.
to see more of Hellman’s work, visit Broadmoor Pottery