Friday, June 25, 2010

Following the Brick Path

I'll get back to my story in the next post. For now, I have some fantastic news!

Rowantrees Pottery and Quail Creek Editions are pleased to announce the publication of Following the Brick Path, the Story of Rowantrees Pottery. Written by Andrew Phelan, this lavishly illustrated 228 page book tells the endearing and fascinating story of the 75 year history of a pottery whose wares are collected, used and cherished by thousands of people worldwide.

The book will be formally released in a book signing ceremony at the Blue Hill Public Library. Sheila Varnum, the last owner of Rowantrees Pottery and the author will both be present to sign copies, and the signing will take place at the Library on Saturday, July 31, 2010 at 1 PM.

Following the Brick Path tells the story of Rowantrees from its beginning in 1934 when Adelaide Pearson had a kiln constructed at her Blue Hill home to fire the wares of students enrolled in her summer art classes. From those humble beginnings the kiln evolved and grew as its wares achieved attention and renown both nationally and eventually internationally. Its wares are widely used and beloved by many, and are prized collectors items. Included in this book are many fascinating details about the people and events that shaped the pottery over the years. Pearson, the founder was a Boston-born world traveler and social reformer who made Blue Hill her home in the mid 1920's. She was an accomplished photographer and filmmaker as well as an author and collector. Included in the book are details of the pivotal trip Pearson and her partner Laura Paddock made in 1938-39 when they went around the world from England to India, then French Indochina, Japan, and China, researching pottery making. It was on this trip that they met with Gandhi who encouraged the development of the pottery as a full-fledged business.

Also included in the book are fascinating details and samples of correspondence with America House, a pioneering crafts marketing initiative of Eileen O. Webb who also went on to establish The School for American Craftsmen, the magazine, Craft Horizons (now American Crafts) and American Craft museum. The story of the near demise of Rowantrees in the mid-1970's following Paddock's growing infirmities, and its heartwarming rescue by Sheila Varnum are also told in the book.

Filled with historic photographs and reproductions of correspondence as well as sale brochures and extensive folios of its wares, the book will delight those interested in the history of Blue Hill, the history of cultural institutions of the Maine Coast as well as those interested in the history of ceramics.

Dr. Phelan, a retired professor of art who held various positions at the University of Oklahoma, in Norman, Oklahoma and at the Pratt institute in Brooklyn, NY has a personal connection to the pottery. His father, Linn L. Phelan was the first potter hired by Pearson and Paddock in 1937, as they began the process of expanding and developing the pottery beyond its modest beginnings.

Further information about the book signing can be obtained by contacting Brook at the Blue Hill Public Library, (207) 374-5515.

Additional information about Following the Brick Path is available from the publisher, Quail Creek Editions, 1811 Quail Creek Drive, Norman, OK 73026. The book is priced at $45, with a pre-publication price of $35 (plus shipping) if ordered before July 15, 2010.

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