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UND Pottery

University oF North Dakota


Centennial Celebration

Exhibition Gallery

Lost Former Students

Registration Form


Pottery Collection

Topical Discussion


Cable Years

50/50: The Cable Years

Early Years




Early Years

Cable was responsible for the research of high quality clays from western North Dakota, putting them to such practical uses as drain tile, sewer tile, facing brick, porcelain insulators and pottery, and for teaching research methods and pottery making. She felt industry could play an important and meaningful role in development of the decorative arts. In fact, economic development using industrial processes was the premise that guided much of the early School of Mines/Ceramics Department research.

A seal was developed by Cable that would identify the work produced at the University. The first known seal was hand lettered in cobalt blue on the bottom of a small flower vase in 1912. By 1913 all pieces of any significance---pottery, figurines, tiles, medallions and frequently commercial production samples---bore the University of North Dakota, School of Mines seal.

The popularity of the Ceramics Department, School of Mines "art pottery" flourished under Cable's guidance and the Art Nouveau/Art Deco style of pottery was largely replaced by native flora and fauna motifs and regional themes. Some painted but mostly sgraffito or carving techniques were used for surface treatment. The crocus, prairie rose, buffalo, flickertail, ox cart, covered wagons, Indians, and cowboys on horseback became common images. One of the best examples of the new style using sgraffito was the 1926 North Dakota Products vase, which was commissioned by Governor A.G. Sorlie of North Dakota.

One additional stylistic change occurred in the early 30's and bares mentioning. The development of the painted red, brown, cream pottery using almost exclusively native American images was called bentonite pottery. Some of the most beautiful pieces of pottery ever made at the University of North Dakota used this monochromatic style.