History

Cover, Volume 1, Number 1, 1972When Studio Potter began its life in 1972, we took the potter’s mark as our symbol. It was the wire-cut mark that only a potter recognizes as well as a universal one that every potter in the world recognizes. It strongly appealed to our iconoclastic approach to pottery. At that time, two publications were pre-eminent in the field: Ceramics Monthly and Craft Horizons. Our perception was that they covered schools and galleries but not working potters, and our conceit was that a new publication by and for potters could fill that need. 

New Hampshire Potters Guild, 1972In the fall of 1971, members of the New Hampshire Potter’s Guild (left) discussed publishing a magazine, which lead to the formation of a nonprofit organization called the Daniel Clark Foundation, named after an obscure colonial potter in New Hampshire whose fame came principally from a diary he left upon his death in 1828. We were financed by a dozen New Hampshire potters and a modest grant from the Northeast Region of the American Crafts Council. Innocent and foolhardy, we launched our first issue. The cover was hand–silk screened and the modest twenty pages contained an eclectic mix of photographs and articles on apprenticeship, photo-resist, and homemade pugmills, and an excerpt from Paulus Berensohn’s unpublished manuscript, Finding One’s Way With Clay. 

It was an unpretentious beginning, one that might have foundered for lack of journalistic experience and financial stability. Even then it would not have been possible without the help of courageous friends. Original “investors” were Peter and Lissi Sabin, Vivika and Otto Heino, Michael Cohen and Harriet Goodwin (Cohen), Ruth Tobey, Dan and Mary Ann Gehan, and Julie and Gerry Williams. Armand Szainer designed the magazine, Bill Finney took the pictures, and attorney Neil Castaldo drew up nonprofit papers. Two hundred pre-subscribers took a chance on us.L to R: Elenor Wilson and Mary Barringer, January 2014

Forty-plus years later, Studio Potter inevitably has changed – but so has the field. Through the years, the journal’s leadership has been passed down to two successive generations; Mary Barringer in 2004 and Elenor Wilson in 2014 (pictured together, below, right). The editorial focus has evolved from how-to technology to aesthetic philosophy; the field had grown toward wider and deeper interests. 

Yet, some things have not changed. Volume One, Number One (cover, above right) began with a spirit that still defines us: an essential belief in functional pottery, a reverence for new talent and old masters, the desire to encourage first-person writing, education as a means of self-discovery, service to the field, and overall, to humanitarian values.