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Historic potter’s wares sold in support of Vernon museum

Works of Axel Ebring up for grabs Friday and Saturday
The pottery works of Axel Ebring will be on sale at the Vernon Rec Centre Friday, March 10, and Saturday, March 11, 2023. (Museum and Archives of Vernon photo)

A rare chance to own some museum artefacts is coming to Vernon.

Museum and Archives of Vernon is participating in an antiques and collectibles sale held by the Vernon Collectors Club at the Vernon Rec Centre Friday, March 10 and Saturday, March 11.

The museum is downsizing its collection of pottery by Axel Ebring, and volunteers will be offering select pieces for sale that were previously purchased by the museum.

The museum built a large Ebring collection, with pieces donated or purchased by the museum. The collection kept growing to the point where it’s almost spilling off the shelves.

Last year, the decision was made to shrink the collection to a manageable level in anticipation of one day moving into the Vernon Cultural Centre.

“When an object is removed from a museum it is ‘deaccessioned.’ At the Vernon Museum we follow deaccessioning policies laid out by the Canadian Museum Association,” explains the museum’s registrar, Carolyn Ben. “After careful review it was decided to deaccession some of the Ebring pieces which the museum had purchased. First, the pottery was offered to other museums in the area, and then it was offered to all museums in British Columbia. Sadly, we were unable to find a new home for it. The final option is to offer the pieces to the public, with all proceeds going straight back into the care of our collections.”

It’s a unique opportunity to purchase a piece of local pottery art while supporting the local museum.

Ebring, who lived from 1869 to 1954, was an immigrant from pottery roots in Uppsala, Sweden. As a teenager he came to the U.S., his restlessness taking him across the American midwest into the Canadian prairies, and finally, in the 1920s, to Notch Hill just west of Salmon Arm. There, as a middle-aged man, he discovered a clay deposit on his farm and started making his own pottery.

By 1939 he had moved to Vernon to set up his studio in an old brick yard.

With clay accessible behind his workshop and a supply of wood available, Ebring was soon in full operation. He used a kick wheel, wood-fired his kiln, and only used his eye to gauge the temperature of the kiln and the progress of the firing. He never used a thermometer for his kiln, saying, “the best thermometer is an old man with enough experience.”

Ebring’s work is mostly functional, wood-fired earthenware. His preferred wares were bowls, vases and jugs. Shoppers especially appreciated his glazes, particularly his blue glazes.

Ebring’s work was widely purchased and sought after by collectors from Vancouver to Calgary.

His legacy was marked in the naming of Pottery Road, near where his kiln and shop were located.

Ebring never married. He died in Vernon in 1954 and left behind an impressive legacy of pottery and art in the North Okanagan.

The sale runs from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $3 and good for both days.

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Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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