Cowan Pottery was in business for a brief period of time; specifically, between 1912 and 1931. That’s not to say, however, that this Ohio art pottery company didn’t leave a lasting impression – it most certainly did.
Founded by R. Guy Cowan, an Ohio native, Cowan Pottery began as a tiny studio with only a few kilns and with Cowan serving as the owner, artist, designer, bookkeeper and so on. Despite what was surely an exhausting effort, Cowan produced many art pottery pieces and tile designs. By 1917, Cowan was enjoying the fruits of his hard work with many awards for his art pottery collections.
As was the case with many art pottery companies during this time period, World War I meant a closing of his business so that he could serve in the Chemical Warfare Service. The war ended and Cowan found himself following his passions once again, this time in a new location in Ohio. He upped the equipment, created a studio and before long, he was filling orders for department stores, individuals and other national chains. That was soon followed with commercial pottery efforts. He was able to hire a staff of artists and his output neared 175,000 pieces each year. Some of those Cowan Pottery pieces included bowls, vases, lamps and candlesticks.
Despite his impressive successes, in the late 1920s, Cowan found his business struggling financially. The demand was slowly dropping for pottery, as would-be customers found themselves struggling from a financial aspect, too. Indeed, times were incredibly difficult and by 1930, the writing was on the proverbial wall. The Depression hit fast and hard and Cowan Pottery closed its doors in December, 1931.
The legacy left behind is priceless. The glazes and artistic abilities are nothing short of genius; partly due to Cowan’s familiarity with the chemicals used in the American art pottery sector.
Cowan knew he could never walk away from art pottery and became a well respected judge and trustee for the National Ceramic Exhibitions until his death in 1957.
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