Wagoner Pottery

formerly
"The Billie Creek Potters"

Peeler Studios - Richard & Marj Peeler


Wagoner Pottery is now in Bridgeton, Indiana! Follow the sign outside the mill. We'll be there during the Covered Bridge Festival. Come check us out!

NCECA catalog page.


Peeler Studio Art

 

The Putnam County Museum Announces the Publication of

Peeler Pottery: A Retrospective


    The Putnam County Museum, Greencastle, Indiana, has announced the publication and release of its second book, Peeler Pottery; A Retrospective, by Marj Peeler, et al.

    The 342 page book tells the story of Richard and Marj Peeler from their meeting in 1941 as art students at Indianapolis Arsenal Tech High School through their college and courting years and the building of their self-constructed rammed earth home in southern Putnam County.  It continues with the story of Richard’s tenure on the art faculty at DePauw University where the new Peeler Art Center is named in his honor.

    In 1972 Richard retired from DePauw, and, together with Marj, opened Peeler Pottery, a production studio they built in their backyard.  They worked as a team producing utilitarian and artistic pottery until Richard’s death in 1996.  The major emphasis of the book is documenting, through 756 color photos, the beauty and diversity of the Peelers’ artistic creations.  Their pottery is the major focus of the book, but their sculptures, Richard’s wood turnings, and Marj’s fabric and gourd art are also covered.

    The book is available through the museum as a limited edition hard bound volume with dust jacket for $75 or soft bound for $40.  The Putnam County Museum is located at 1105 North Jackson Street, Greencastle, IN 46135.  The book may be purchased at the museum, ordered by phone at 765-653-8419, by email at museum@co.putnam.in.us or through their website www.putnamcountymuseum.org

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For more information or questions about any of these items, please contact the Assistant Director, Tanis Monday, at (765) 653-8419 or museum2@co.putnam.in.us.

Ceramics: What, Why and How?
The first in the Peeler Ceramic Art Film Series.



The eight color films in the Ceramic Art Series are a wonderful opportunity to introduce students to the exciting world of ceramics.

1. Ceramics, What? Why? How?
2. The Coil Method
3. Handbuilding Methods
4. Creating Mosaics and Tiles
5. Potters of Japan (part 1)
6. Potters of Japan (part 2)
7. Potters of the U.S.A. (part 1)
8. Potters of the U.S.A. (part 2)

There are more videos on youtube posted by Wagoner Pottery.

A Letter from Marj Peeler
Who, Where, What, and Why?

Richard and I have been married and partners in clay for 51 years. We live in Putnam County, Indiana. We’ve made our living from pottery for the past 28 years. And they said it couldn’t be done!

In spite of doing many things wrong like living in the country 15 miles from Greencastle, and 7 miles from Cloverdale, our business somehow worked! Over the years we’ve had guests and customers from all the 50 states. Also people from 51 different foreign countries around the world. Our pottery studio and grounds became the place of interest to take guests for a visit. We met many interesting people this way – have lots of guest books full of names.
Richard built a 40 cubic catanary arch kiln, which we fire to cone 10 (2380º F) reduction. Most of our pottery is turned on the potter’s wheel. However, we make a goodly number of hand built pots and sculptures and one-of-a-kind ware. Our main pottery is utilitarian and relatively small. We find that small items fit into wasted space around the larger pieces. Therefore, our kiln is always packed full before we fire. Tiny items, which sell for a small price, add up to enough extra money to pay for the fuel.

Richard and I work together, often on each other’s pieces. We glaze together, stack together, pack and ship together. It’s much easier and more efficient than trying to work alone.
We always gave advice to anyone who asked for it. No secrets! Clays, glazes, application of glazes, and the firing processes are all so variable, that we freely gave our knowledge. Probably no one took our advice or could make it work anyway. Pottery ain’t rocket science!
How did this partnership start? We met at Tech High School in Indianapolis in art class in 1940. We were the "Big Romance" of the art department for 4 years. Richard was drafted right after graduation. He served in the Army of Occupation of Germany. At the age of 19, he became a Master Sergeant in charge of 35 men who made out a 2 million-dollar pay roll each month. No computer, no calculators, only hand cranked adding machine, pencils, paper and brainpower.

We married in l948. Sex was in, birth control didn’t work very well and so we added 4 sons to the "Baby Boom"

Our first kiln was a one cubic foot electric kiln. We made thousands of delicate flower pins and earrings of low fire white clay. Plastic jewelry soon was developed and ceramic jewelry was out. However, we fired bisque, glaze and gold for each piece. Since the kiln was small, we were able to fire every evening.

We experimented with slip casting. Over the years we have fired oxidation at low heat, fired high reduction, fired Raku and pit firings. We’ve used low fire bright colored glazes and high fired earthy glazes, no glazes, polished clay like the Indian pots. To glaze we’ve brushed it on, dipped, poured, sprayed, sponged, and even used a bit of room temperature glaze ("paint’).
Richard kindly consented to judge the local 4H clay work. The irate mothers were mad because he didn’t award all their children a blue ribbon. They felt that he didn’t understand low fired and cast ware. Well, my dears, he had done it all and seen it all and all the kids didn’t deserve a blue ribbon. Don’t try to judge a 4H project – the mothers are vicious.
Richard and I filmed, edited, narrated, put music to the background of 8 Ceramic Art Films. He traveled. I kept the home and sons running. The films are meant to show how things are made, not to be a strict "how to do it" teaching aid. We made these in 1966. The processes are valid; the clothing and hairstyles look dated. We sold and rented the films and videos for 25 years. Todd Wagoner is reviving them now in video form.

Richard was a good teacher at DePauw University. He decided to leave teaching when we were 46 years old. (Mid-life crisis?) We expected to do wholesale potting. We were lucky that handcrafts were "in" in the 60’s and we sold to galleries easily. Dumb luck! Good timing! It soon worked out that people showed up at the pottery studio to buy pots directly from us.
I finally got to be a professional potter for 28 years. It was wonderful to work in clay every day. I loved to throw it, pinch it, punch, poke, shape, distort, build, cut, and decorate clay.
We had a very full life together. Our house is rammed earth (clay). It is our largest pot or our largest sculpture?? Richard contracted a very rare autoimmune disease, which destroyed his body’s, own muscles. How he got it, no one knows? He died December 22, 1998 at age 72. He worked until the very end. I’ve had to give up clay because of a shoulder problem. It was great while it lasted!

I hope I wrote about what potters and teachers would want to know We worked in so many ways other than clay-building: wood, fabric, photography, painting, illustrating, display.

Marj Peeler October 11.2000

 

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