Edgerton Art Clay Works

     Meanwhile, at the Art Clay Works, Miss Jean Pond

Miner, who had designed and sculpted one of the large

statues displayed in the Wisconsin pavilion at the

World's Columbian Exposition, had been at work since

early summer designing "....a new line of goods being

manufactured."  She was joined in a few weeks by

Helen Farnsworth Mears, whose "Genius of Wisconsin"

sculpture had also been on display at the fair, and, who

had recently returned after a year studying at the St.

Gaudens' studio in New York. mears and Miner were

creating a new line of figures and statuary for the clay

works. "The new designs", commented the Wisconsin

Tobacco Reporter, "...are the most attractive yet got

out and ought to meet with a large sale."  Louis H. Towne, a prominent young Edgerton attorney, admirer of fine art products, gardener and nature lover, had purchased the American Art Clay Works from Samson and Ipson sometime in early Spring of 1895 and was busy promoting the products. Towne was especially active in Milwaukee and Chicago where he had just opened a branch store to sell the newly named Edgerton Art Clay Works products.  For the 1895 Christmas season, the Wisconsin Tobacco Reporter printed a special two-sided supplement to the regular paper devoted almost exclusively to the Edgerton Art Clay Works. In the supplement, several downtown stores advertised their "holiday stock" and "Christmas bargains", while the Edgerton Art Clay Works advertisement "...invite inspection of their products.  You can get nothing more beautiful and unique than one of their statuettes."

 

    The genius propelling Edgerton Art Clay Works to a creative high-point in 1895 was the sculpting team of the Samson brothers, Hans and Thorwald, with Louis Ipson, Mears and Miner, put together by Louis Harvey Towne. After 1895, Mears went to Paris to further develop her skills in the French sculpting studios, although she returned to Edgerton Art for a brief period in December 1898.  And Miner apparently returned to Chicago and became an outstanding art-instructor at the McGowan School for the Deaf and the Art Institute. In April 1896, Ipson and his wife returned to Denmark.  Sometime later, Hans Samson and his wife left for the Dakotas, where he had taken a telegraph operator's position. When he became ill, they determined to return to Denmark, but as his condition worsened during the train journey eastward, he was hospitalized at Mankato, Minnesota, where he died and was buried.  In November 1899, Thorwald Samson, his wife and family, also left Edgerton for Denmark.  The Wisconsin Tobacco Reporter noted that Louis H. Towne would have the pottery store open for "...an opportunity to select artistic specimens...before the pottery closes."   On Friday, December 21, 1899, a brief notice in the local news column indicated the potttery would be open from 2 to 4 p.m. "...the last opportunity to make a selection of Edgerton Terra Cotta."

 

    In Chicago, meanwhile, Wilder and Minnie Pickard, with ample assistance from her father and brothers, set up a china painting business which operated out of the Flood home on Oak Street.  White china blanks were unpacked in the basement, delivered to the decorators and artists in their homes, collected and brough back to the Flood home for firing in the attic kiln.  Mae Johnson, whose home was Edgerton, but who was then an art-teacher in the Evansville public schools, joined the Pickards in Chicago after the school year, to get the decorating studio under way, perhaps painting and decorating some pieces, as well as supervising the work.  She was back in Edgerton by December 13th, 1895 and probably did not work for Pickard after that.  However, she continued to do decorative china-painting, and as late as December 1897, had "...an elegant line of hand-painting china suitable for holiday presents..." at Babcock & Birkenmeyer's Department Store on Fulton Street in Edgerton.  Meanwhile, Pickard, outgrowing the Flood home studio, rented a carriage barn on Whiting Street in Chicago, and then another and another, as the china decorating business, now known as the Pickard China Studio continued to grow. Pickard would remain at this location until 1905.

 

     After the foreclosure and sale of the Pauline Pottery in April 1894, Pauline Jacobus withdrew to her home north of town. In the summer of 1895, she opened "The Bogert" for a housefull of summer boarders, mainly from Chicago.  They were "...given an old fashioned hayride..." on the Fourth of July "..in an outfit decorated for a calathumpian parage, but they had more than a wagon load of fun..." noted the Wisconsin Tobacco Reporter.  It was probably her intention, encouraged by her many friends, to organize a summer art-colony, around instruction in art-pottery making and decorating.  Charging $20.00 tuition and $5.00 to $7.00 per week for room and board, she provided classes conducted by "competent teachers...in the different methods of throwing on the wheel, building, moulding and casting..mould making...clay painting...incising, carving and painting on the biscuit."  "Originality in form and design will be encouraged," she said.  When the summer season, perhaps concluding with a Chatauquaesque evening entertainment with tableaus, music by the Edgerton Cornet Band, and recitation under Japanese lanterns, was over, she usually closed up the house for a time and took long vacations visiting friends in the Chicago area.

 

 

 

1. Edgerton's History in Clay by Maurice Montgomery

          Official Website of the City of Edgerton, 12 Albion St, Edgerton, Wisconsin 53534 (608) 884-3341 Rock & Dane County