One cannot tell the story of pottery in British Columbia without starting with Axel Ebring. Much of what is known about Ebring can be found online with a quick search, so here is a brief synopsis…
Using clay from a local bank, a home-made kick wheel in a 10 square foot studio, and a brick wood fired kiln (that was 20 square feet with walls two feet thick) he quickly established a profitable livelihood, selling his craft to locals. When his clay supply was exhausted he moved to Vernon in 1939 where he reestablished a studio and potted for the remainder of his life.
Ebring’s work exemplifies the character of his European roots. The variety and sizes of his forms and glazes all typify his work. Spotting an Ebring is easy once you’ve seen a collection of them. Forms range from the primarily functional to the occasional sculptural. Glazes range is colour from the usual blue/greens to the rare yellow. Occasionally he decorated his dinnerware with designs applied with a sponge as shown in the photos.
His pottery is nearly always signed with some combination of the following; Notch Hill BC, Vernon BC, Vern. BC, V~n BC. According to a reporter who interviewed Ebring in 1943, he did this because it's "where he got the material to do his work."
Occasionally he included his name and a production year. To date, nothing has been found bearing a Terrace BC mark, prompting the question of whether he potted during his time there or not.
The importance of Axel Ebring to the story of pottery in British Columbia cannot be overstated. Along with Peter Rupchan in Saskatchewan, he was one of Canada's first independent pioneer potters. It was late in his life when David Lambert began to frequent Ebring’s pottery, bringing his influence to the other early potters of British Columbia, and it would be a few years after his death in 1954 that the Schwenks would establish the next pottery in the Okanagan valley.
If you have any pieces of pottery by Axel Ebring you would like to sell, please contact me here.
Studio Pottery Canada
Pottery enthusiast learning about the history of this Canadian art form and curating samples from the best in the field pre-1980.