Nemadji Pottery

nemadji

one of the things i’d like to do at home is build up my ceramics & glassware collection. i’ve been buying a few knick knacks here and there, which is always a slow process as you tend to find them sporadically (and need to resist the urge to buy an entire collection that you won’t necessarily love years down the line). so when i spotted these colourful marbled pots on Etsy i kind of fell in love, and did a bit of reading up on their origin. found this little piece of Fab.com which explains,

Nemadji pottery is that early 20th century invention that somehow got mixed up with a Native American tribe. The Minnesota-based Nemadji pottery company began manufacturing this colorful, swirled pottery in 1929 and promoted it as being “Indian inspired.” Over the years, advertising became truth in the minds of many, leading to mistaken claims over authentic Native American pottery.

i would probably end up filling my house with these, if only i could get my hands on some locally. you can find them on Etsy and eBay – click on the pictures to be taken to the source (some of them are already sold, unfortunately!)

 

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  1. Clare says

    Thankyou for this post! Just beautiful stuff! If you like it, google David Pottinger. He doesn’t have a web presence, but you can find some posts, and some galleries that show his stuff. He’s an amaaaaaazing ceramacist. I bought a little vessel of his last year, and it still feels fresh and new, looking at it every single day.

  2. says

    Funny,
    I have about four or five pieces that I inherited from my Grandmother. I always thought that they were native too. I’ve had them on display for years because they are so pretty. Now I feel very fashionable – thanks!

  3. says

    Thank you for this lovely bit of information! I had never seen any pottery like this before, and I spotted two of these in an antique shop the day after reading this post. Beautiful.

  4. says

    Thank you so much for including my piece in your post! It went to a new good home :)

    Actually, to set the record straight: The distinctive marbleized pattern was hand painted to look like the real thing to market in the tourist trade. They were made to look like natural clay patterns and colors, but alas, they are indeed painted.

    Nemadji pottery, or “Indian Pottery” was made in the Arrowhead region of Minnesota starting in the 1920s. While never actually made by American Indians, it was a style of pottery created to be reminiscent of the vessels they made long ago with clay from the Nemadji river. No two are exactly alike, which makes it fun to collect.

    I know, it’s confusing!

  5. Nala says

    There is an art gallery in Claremont, CA (The Colony @ Loft 204) It is in the 1st Street Packing House. They will have at least a dozen pieces for sale in June (2013).

  6. Carolyn says

    Your pictures are some Nemadji pottery and some are Garden of the Gods. I own over 100 pieces of Nemadji, two of which are lamps.
    I love them. The majority were formed using molds. The colors come from a technique dropping paint on the surface of water and then dripping the pot into the water. Each pot is then unique in design. Nemadji have a light interior where Garden of the Gods have a very dark interior. I collect only Nemadji but some a few sample of the Garden ones.

  7. Michelle Lee says

    For those of you who are looking for more information on Nemadji pottery, my book, The Myth and Magic of Nemadji “Indian” Pottery is available on Amazon. I spend over 20 years researching the pottery that was produce in the town where I live. It has color photos, stamp marks and the true history of this beautiful pottery. The information in this book is often quoted by experts and appraisers. It is a must for the serious and no so serious Nemadji collectors.
    Michelle Lee

  8. Kathy says

    Hello! I received one of these as a gift and it’s just stunning. I was wondering if you had any suggestions on what to plant in one? Right now, it’s just a decor item with nothing in it, but I’m afraid that it will get knocked over and wanted to try to weigh it down by planting something in it. Thanks!

  9. Jerry Monarch says

    The colors on Nemadji pottery are probably applied by swirling oil paint on top of water and then dipping the pot into the colors. This was a technique we used in the 1950’s to get color swirled onto glasses, jars, etc. as vases and pencil holders for our parents.

    I have bought and enjoyed pieces of Nemadji for 20-30 years. I just bought two pieces this week at two separate estate sales.

    I am not sure I would plant anything in a piece of art pottery. I know the later pieces of Nemadji have a clear glaze on the interior and can probably survive being used as a planter (but I would hesitate). Even these pots do not have a drain hole.

    I have seen pieces of real native American pots ruined by the water that seeps through the pot and flakes off glazes or leaves a salt deposit on the exterior.

  10. christine says

    Hello. my Mother (Marlene) worked at the Nemadji Tile and Pottery Plant in Kettle River MN for years. I spent many hours there with her watching her paint as a child. Until later, as an adult, I too would be a painter of Nemadji Pottery.
    The process of this pottery was this: the clay would be poured into molds (by my husband), the clay would set, the pot would be removed from the mold. The gals would then spin and smooth the surface of the pots that would be loaded into the kiln. Once they had dried, they would be sent down the line in waiting to be painted based on the customer order.
    Painting consisted of a large metal basin full of clean water. A specific array of colors of paint would be applied to the water, in a very specific way to prevent the paint from being too think or so that it wouldn’t’ run, I would blow a hole in the paint, holding the pot, the pot would be moved along in the water to catch the paint as the pot is then lifted out . It is a technique that requires lots of practice.
    In my day, pots were not stamped with the Nemadji stamp. That stamp was discontinued many years ago. (There were many stamps) The plant with all its history, still stands today, though it is falling in. I would love to see it resurrected once again to be able to paint once again in my deceased Moms (1-28-1940 – 2-23-2015) footsteps if only once more. I am honored to have done so many of the very same things she did in her short life. Honored to have shared in the pottery experience and to be able to enjoy the pottery she left. A wonderful memory filled bond.

    • Carole Gibbons says

      To Christine,
      Thank you so much for telling of your experience with actually helping to produce this wonderful pottery. A real find to hear from someone who actually worked with it.
      I have one question………..did you use enamel or water based paint?