Monday, July 15, 2019

Pottery Marks of Prince Edward Island - Jack & Ian Scott - Village Pottery

Writing about myself does not come as easy as other entries in this blog, and thus after seven years as a studio potter I am just now writing a bit about my own potter's mark. The joined VP mark is the signature used jointly by the production from the studio I share with my son Jack Scott and represents the initial letters of our family shop - Village Pottery which is located in New London on the north shore of PEI.

My wife Daphne Large and daughter Suzanne Scott are also potters and in 2012 my dabbling in clay became a serious pursuit developing slab construction techniques which use many of my prior skills and tools in a converted leatherwork studio. Eventually joined by son Jack made it four family members making pottery. Our studios overlap in the finishing of pieces as Daphne and Suzanne glaze and fire the work Jack and I produce and thus they share in the creative process of each piece in selecting and applying glazes. We likewise play a role in loading kilns and recycling clay thus while the operation is spread over studios in two locations in Charlottetown and one in New London most pieces we make have been handled by at least three if not four members of the family before they reach the hands of our customers. Thus the reason that we use a studio mark for the work Jack and I make rather than several signatures on each piece. This is also standard practice in many traditional studios where more than one potter contributes to the finished piece and the finished piece bears the mark of the studio rather than initials of individuals.

VP potter's mark with PEI and year

Ceramic tool made for making VP potter's mark on base of handles.

VP mark on bottom of pottery as well as on base of handle.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Aileen Brophy

Aileen Brophy was a student at Holland College School of Visual Arts in Charlottetown in the late 1970's at about the same time as her daughter, who has the same name was also a student. The younger Aileen was studying studio jewellery while her mother was a potter and lived in Summerside; she signed her work "Brophy P.E.I." along with the year.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Catherine G. Hennessey

For most people on PEI, the name Catherine G. Hennessey is immediately associated with preservation of the built environment. Both a tireless heritage advocate and historian, Catherine produced a small book on the Prince Edward Island Pottery Co. and is an avid collector of Island pottery.

Among her collection is a piece that she created in clay during the time she was employed at Holland College School of Visual Arts in the mid 1980's.

The clay house is a model of Atwell House a stone house located in New Haven, PEI, which Canada's Historic Places describes it as:

The Atwell House is notable for its use of Island sandstone in its construction. It is one of only 8 remaining sandstone homes built in 19th Century PEI. The property that Atwell House now sits on was originally glebe land. In 1837, this land was given to Ambrose Lane by his father-in-law, Lt. Governor C.D. Smith. Lane had a varied and influential career as an army and militia officer, politician, and judge. Lane sold the land to Thomas Kickham in 1840. It is believed the house was built in 1842 using proceeds from the sale of the adjacent farm. Kickham called the property the Dog River Farm for the river running below it, later to be renamed the Clyde. 
Local tradition maintains that the stone for the house was taken from the farm property, and construction was undertaken by local stone masons, Thomas and John Heartz. It is also believed that the finish work carpentry was done with timber sent from the Island to England and then returned for installation, arriving by ship at a dock formerly on the property. 
In 1843, Ambrose Lane re-acquired the property and used it as a hunting lodge. After his death in 1853, it saw a number of owners and became known variously as Sherwood Farm and later Atwell House, after the family who owned it in the 1970s. 

Island Stoneware - Perry Niessen Studios Inc.

For information on Right Off The Batt Pottery which was founded and became Island Stoneware -  under the ownership of Cindy & Darryl Lentz see Pottery Marks of Prince Edward Island - Island Stoneware.

As Island Stoneware was sold in 2016 to Chris Palmer who in November 2017 sold the operation to Perry Niessen Studios Inc. this blog post will focus on Perry Niessen Studios.

Perry Niessen Studios combines the surnames of the owners Randy Perry and Jamie Niessen.

Their website indicates:
Island Stoneware pottery is made by Perry Niessen Studios Inc., owned and operated by Randy Perry and Jamie Niessen, two business professionals with a shared passion for arts and craft. We are aspiring potters at this point, and the remarkable handcrafting of all the Island Stoneware pottery is done by our team of talented artisans. We started in 2008 as Right Off the Batt pottery and changed our name to Island Stoneware. We recently re-located our studio to Summerside from Borden-Carleton.
The address is:
664B Water St E, Summerside, PE C1N 4J1

An article in the Journal-Pioneer gives an introduction to the new owners:

Island Stoneware relocates to Summerside, looking for to hire new staffers

The Journal Pioneer
Published: Jan 16, (2019 likely) at 1:53 p.m.
Updated: Jan 18 at 6 a.m.
Tunde Szarka, is shown hand building a custom mug at Island Stoneware studios. Szarka has worked with Island Stoneware for five years.  - Contributed to the Journal-Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – A popular Island pottery business has found new site for its production studio.

Perry Niessen Studios Inc., makers of Island Stoneware handcrafted pottery, recently moved to a Summerside location which offers more space, improved access to skilled talent and better shipping service for the studio’s wholesale business.

The move is happening in correlation with Summerside native Randy Perry’s return home.

“About two years ago we were living in Toronto and it struck us, as much as we love the things a big city had to offer, we were ready for more space and less pace,” said Perry, co-owner of Island Stoneware.

“We started looking at opportunities to start up or buy a business on the Island and quite quickly we found Island Stoneware to be a great fit for our skills and interest.”

“About two years ago we were living in Toronto and it struck us, as much as we love the things a big city had to offer, we were ready for more space and less pace.”
-Randy Perry

Within seven months of the initial idea to move home, Perry and his spouse, Jamie Niessen, bought a home in Summerside. The couple took ownership of the business in November 2017. Before the move, Island Stoneware was located in Borden-Carleton. The company’s primary business is as a manufacturing wholesaler, selling its Island-made pottery to retailers across Canada and the United States.

“Within three weeks of announcing our move to Summerside, we found a skilled potter to join our team,” said Perry. “We’re also looking to add a new hand builder to the team.”

A hand builder makes pottery from slab, rather than on a wheel and adds designs elements to those pieces.

Perry works full time as a database developer for a Calgary-based software company.

Niessen, originally from Alberta, is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the studio.

“We’ve been home for about a year-and-a-half now,” said Perry. “We still marvel at how easy it is to get places, like how quickly we can to get to the beach or enjoy a dog walk on the boardwalk. Owning a business takes a lot of effort but, on P.E.I., we have so much more time to live, not just work.”

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Rise Pottery - Ryan Murphy

Rise Pottery is the studio of Ryan Murphy who trained at NSCAD University, in Halifax, NS.
He currently operates it as a part-time studio in Charlottetown and attends craft shows to sell his work as well as through special orders online. The website is Rise Pottery.

Ryan speaking to customers visiting his booth on Victoria Row in 2018.

Potter's Mark for Rise Pottery is Ryan Murphy PEI

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Crystal Stevens - Redrocks Pottery - Summerside, PEI

An excellent article published by The Guardian on August 13, 2018 tell the story of how Crystal of Redrocks Pottery became an Island potter, and developed her signature fox mugs.

North Bedeque potter finding success and fulfillment with line of individualized fox mugs
Colin MacLean ( 

In a cozy little workshop, down a pretty little road, lives a fox.
Crystal Stevens, of Redrocks Pottery in North Bedque, shows off Jax, one of the individually named creations from her PEI Fox Mugs brand. - Colin MacLean, Journal Pioneer

His name is Jax and he’s looking for a home.

He probably won’t have to wait long before he’s adopted. His siblings have proven quite popular lately.

Which is good news for Jax – and for his creator.

See, Jax is a PEI Fox Mug.

He was hand-thrown by Crystal Stevens, owner and artist of Redrocks Pottery in North Bedeque.

Stevens launched her PEI Fox Mug brand about a year ago and a combination of word of mouth and being featured by Made in the Maritimes, which has a huge social media following, has made the stoneware items a popular seller.

“People love them. I can’t seem to make enough,” said Stevens.

“I don’t advertise them a lot because when I do advertise them they tend sell out pretty quick.”

As a small business owner Stevens is happy to have a popular product she can build on. But even more so as a potter and artist, she looks forward to each new batch of PEI Fox Mugs.

She does a lot of what’s called ‘production pottery.’ Which means she gets contracted by larger pottery producers to help make their products so they can keep up with their orders. It also means she has to make those items to her buyer’s standards and dimensions. It’s repetitive.

She has her own line of pottery as well, making all manner of household items and beyond. But it’s with her PEI Fox Mugs where she truly gets to play at her craft.

Each mug is the same basic design, but each is also unique. Some are tall, others stout. Some have frowny faces, some have mischievous faces and so on. She’s even working on a line of silver fox mugs, in a nod to the area’s silver fox fur farming history, but it is still in the development stage.

Because each is unique she felt it was only right to give each a name to reflect their personality.

Hence “Jax,” with his worried little grin. 

Each mug comes with a card with its name attached and thank you note for adopting the mug.

Some customers also like picking out their own names for their mugs, or buying a certain mug because it’s personality matches someone they intend to gift it too.

“It’s kind of silly, but it makes me happy,” said Stevens.

“When I throw fox mugs, I just sit at the wheel and throw whatever I feel.”

The relative success of PEI Fox Mugs, and her other work as well, is a great source of pride for her. She started Redrocks Pottery in 2014 and only started at the craft in 2012, using old, second-hand, equipment in her spare bedroom.

That was a difficult time her in life, she said, and pottery gave her an outlet.

“I couldn’t control anything in my life at that time. But I could control that, I could make pottery,” she said.

“I was so happy that I found something I love to do.”

Anyone interested in adopting a PEI Fox Mug, which are $42, or checking out Stevens’s many other offerings, can do so online at her website She also regularly updates her page whenever there is another batch of mugs.

She also has open hours, noon to 4 p.m., Thursday, Friday and Saturday at her shop at 120 Highview Rd in North Bedeque.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Bodine MacDonald - Keppoch Kraft

I recently came across two pottery tiles that I believe are both the work of Bodine MacDonald. Bodine Keene Forder met her husband Dr. Sandy MacDonald while he was undertaking a surgical residency at Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. Operating under the name Keppoch Kraft, Bodine and Sandy were both active within the crafts community in the 1970's when I first met them through the PEI Crafts Council. These pieces show the use of found objects from nature to make impressions in the clay surface. An obituary for Sandy from 2003 tells of their retirement life together.

"Bodine and Sandy enjoyed many happy retirement years in Keppoch, PEI, where they both kept busy with hobbies and volunteer community work. Sandy developed an interest in silversmithing and became a skillful and artistic jeweller. He was pleased to accept a position as Chairman of the Board of the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown. After his wife's death in 1986, Sandy moved to Victoria, BC where he continued to enjoy his hobby of silversmithing well past his 90th year." Full obituary.

Unsigned but believed to be the work of  Bodine (Forder) MacDonald of Keppoch Kraft.
Keppoch, Prince Edward Island
1970's - size 3 inch in diameter

Reverse of item above
Unsigned but believed to be the work of  Bodine (Forder) MacDonald of Keppoch Kraft.
Keppoch, Prince Edward Island
1970's - size 3 inch in diameter

Ceramic tile by Bodine (Forder) MacDonald of Keppoch Kraft.
Keppoch, Prince Edward Island
1970's - size 3 inch in diameter

Reverse of above tile by Bodine (Forder) MacDonald of Keppoch Kraft.
Keppoch, Prince Edward Island
1970's - size 3 inch in diameter

Keppoch Kraft - candle holder - marked "Keppoch Kraft SVD" - P.E.I.
Collection of Catherine Hennessey - photo by Ian Scott
Keppoch Kraft - candle holder - marked "Keppoch Kraft SVD - P.E.I."
Collection of Catherine Hennessey - photo by Ian Scott

Pottery Marks of Prince Edward Island - Jack & Ian Scott - Village Pottery

Writing about myself does not come as easy as other entries in this blog, and thus after seven years as a studio potter I am just now writin...