Monday, May 13, 2019

Patterns in Stoneware Penguins and Trees

In my last post I began a discussion about how one identifies the author of a piece, pointing out the importance of the signature but that the signature can also be misleading. The true signature is in the hand of the artist which is as unique as handwriting. This One of a Kind Vintage Emperor Penguin was created when the decoration for the production design was under development. The overall uniformity of the pattern is one of the keys to identifying that the penguin is decorated by Weston and not by Brenda.
Weston's hand is patient, disciplined and rhythmic. The pattern is systematic but not mechanically uniform. Weston takes a philosopher's approach to pattern. The components of the pattern are integral to an inseparable expression of wholeness. The state of mind is at one with the beingness of existence. Weston patientently executes the teardrops in an organically flowing rhythm on the backside of the Emperor Penguin. A similar approach to pattern is shown in the vase, by Weston, to the left. The parts are irregular dabs in an organically organized formation which produces an overall effect which appears deceptively as regularity, like life

Brenda's approach to pattern is as a narrative, While Weston's approach might be compared to that of the drummer, Brenda is the dancer who lays a linear story line over the background of the beat, one might say, a beatnik pattern maker, as the artists culture was called in her day.

Brenda is likely the creator of the tree pattern. Trees all tell a story of life, responsive to the rain, wind, sun, moon and stars, causing their branches to reach out in a way unique to each individual tree. The philosopher focuses on beingness while the narrator tells the events of an individual journey through time

My own childhood artwork can be identified by the wreaths I placed around the  characters. This is how I envisioned the world in my first philosophical conceptualization, as I sat, at the age of five, in the midst of an unmowed grassy field, most likely the first summer that we lived in Maine. I thought about myself as a circle, and my family as a larger circle, and the other people in the world as an even a larger circle.The whole world was the largest circle but it could blow itself up. That didn't make sense and ruined the whole concept. I had going in my head.

If the figure in the center looks dismayed, that is why. That's my generation, the first generation born into a world which could blow itself up. We had to practice hiding under our desks but we knew it was much worse than that. Other generations have since been born into the same world but the way of dealing with it changed and children in sub primary class no longer have to practice hiding under desks preparing for an atomic bomb attack. Now they have to prepare for other kinds of attacks coming from their most immediate circle,

My narration went off pattern, when I leaped from the immediate to the far, The atom, or that non-thing that we call atoms, takes a quantum leap when it goes from one orbit to the next. It doesn't happen in conventionalized time and space. Within the nucleus within the nucleus within the nucleus, there is only consciousness.

That takes us deep into the process of creation, the essence of what makes us human. The process of creating a pattern is a process of consciousness, Creating a pattern is a state of being like chopping wood and carrying water and dancing around the room to the beat because there is no one to stop you from doing so in your own studio, and why small studios are in the Andersen Design master plan.

The eyes of the Emperor Penguin repeat the tear drops in stark black and white. Gray claws grip the base like a pronouncement of creaturehood. The sculpture has the mildly rough surface of a freshly sculpted piece cast in its first mold and the beat goes on.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Original Vintage Prototype Stein in Blue and White Stripes by Weston Neil Andersen

The Blue and white stein is an Andersen classic. This stein is probably the original prototype. It is signed on the bottom with a hand scripted “Andersen”, painted in blue decorating color against a background circle glazed in white.

It is very rare to find the signature on glazed background indicating that the work was created early on, before the glazed background was dropped for production reasons. 

Before Weston designed the prototypes for individual pieces, he made many sketches of a complete line of functional forms on any piece of paper handy, including napkins from road side diners, This is likely the original prototype of the stein because he wasn’t thinking about brand identity when he signed it in simple script with his last name.

By the time Dad did the second stein, shown with it in some pictures, the idea of a brand identity, complete with a logo, began to evolve as Weston started to sign his work with “A” instead of “Andersen” The way the signature on this stein is written in fluid decorating color, makes it difficult to determine if the spelling is “Anderson” or “Andersen”, but I interpret it to be “Anderson”. The changing of the spelling from the Swedish spelling to the Danish spelling indicates the thought process at work in developing a brand identity. Weston’s ancestors are Danish. The decision to use the ancestral spelling of his last name is an integral acknowledgement of who he is and how he came to be here in the grander scope of human history.

The stein is shown with second stein made around the same time. The second stein is signed with an “A’ on an unglazed background. In the early fifties Andersen Design was called Ceramics by Anderson.

The year was actually 1952

The original prototype stein is perfect in form, representing the way that Weston intended it to be produced. The cast is thin and the stein is taller than the second stein shown with it. The difference in length has to do with a longer grinding process used on the lip of the second stein so that it is not only shorter but it does not flair out as much as in the original prototype.

                              Purchase this Rare Vintage Prototype Stein for your special collection

This stein is a product of a moment in history and a perfect example of the prototypical form of the classic Andersen Design Blue striped stein, all hand-made and decorated by, Weston Neil Anderson.

Andersen Design is an American Designer Craftsmen Studio established by Weston and Brenda Andersen in 1952 on Southport Island, Maine, USA. The studio was started with a philosophy of creating hand crafted products affordable to the middle class. Andersen Design remained an American made ceramic studio when most of the western ceramic industry moved production to foreign labor markets and competed successfully in a market flooded with foreign made imports, producing a hand-made art product affordable to the middle class. Andersen Design stands as a singular American original design company taking a unique alternative path during an era of global transformation.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

One of a Kind Vintage Portrait Bowls by Brenda Andersen

Andersen Design is an American Designer Craftsmen Studio established by Weston and Brenda Andersen in 1952 on Southport Island, Maine, USA. The studio was established with a philosophy of creating hand crafted products affordable to the middle class. It designed original glazes and decorative techniques and designed a line of contemporary functional forms and nature sculptures, using slip cast production as the medium for creating art. 

Brenda developed archetypical patterns as repeatable patterns to be rendered by the unique hand 
of individual artisans so that no two were ever exactly alike. She also used the ceramic medium to create many one-of-kind artworks. One of her favorite subjects was portraiture.

This bowl is an original one  of a kind object created by Brenda Nash Andersen

The story begins Weston and Brenda setting out to create a unique and creative American ceramic design and slip casting company without anyone to tell them how do it. This bowl is a portrait of a journey in its beginning.

The portrait is of Susan, the second eldest daughter, which is myself, author of this description. I look to be about the age I was when our family moved to Maine, dating this bowl at 1952.

Andersen Design remained an American made ceramic studio at a time when most of the western ceramic industry moved production to foreign labor markets. The company competed successfully in a market flooded with foreign made imports, producing a hand-made art product affordable to the middle class. The work was collected by Americans of every walk of life and collections handed down through the generations.

Andersen Design stands as a singular original American design company choosing an alternative path during an era of global transformation. It is my inherited responsibility to tell the story of this unique American company. The practice of creating and making ceramics is as invaluable an aspect of what Andersen Design innovated as are the hand-made objects created by the process.

Karen or Gerda? That is the Question.

There is a debate as to wether it is a portrait of Karen, the eldest daughter or Gerda, the third daughter. While I agree that it looks more like Gerda than Karen, the similarity of the signatures with the bowl above, which is clearly a portrait of Susan and not Elise, since Susan and Elise have distinctly different eyes and hair. Susan's hair was always curly, and Elise's hair was straight. The signature of the two bowls are almost identical.

The bowls are dated by the signatures on the bottom in which “Andersen” is spelled the Swedish way, as “Anderson”. Weston’s family is Danish but when they first migrated to America someone changed the spelling of “Andersen” to “Anderson”. Weston changed the spelling back to “Andersen” in the fifties but this bowl has the signature signed with an “O” indicating that it was done at a very early date and that the portrait is of Karen, the eldest daughter.

That point made, it can be a mistake to indentify a work by the signature on the bottom. For years I thought This work of a girl jump roping was by my mother. It is true it has a child like aspect to it, but mother had such a character that it did not seem implausible that she could have created this piece and her signature is on the bottom:

However when we started reviewing pieces known to have been done by myself as a child, the theme emerged that I painted wreaths around the characters. It then became more plausible that my mother signed the bottoms of the platters before she painted them. I came along and did my own art work on a platter which my mother had already signed, making the girl jumping rope a self portrait by this author.

Andersen Design remained an American made ceramic studio when most of the western ceramic industry moved production to foreign labor markets and competed successfully in a market flooded with foreign made imports, producing a hand-made art product affordable to the middle class. Andersen Design stands as a singular American original design company taking the road less travelled during an era of global transformation.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Go to www,andersendesign to join our email list and learn how to win the Gull !

Contest open until Dec 7 2018 at 11:59 pm

Friday, April 6, 2018

Andersen Design Vintage In Wiscasset Community Center Show

Prototype design- Carved Vase by Weston Neil Andersen
This weekend, on Saturday , April 7th, Andersen Design will be featured in the First Vintage Show at the Wiscasset Community Center
Phone(207) 882-8230Website
A sampling of cobbles- small inexpensive but individualistic ceramic art

The entry road to the Center runs next to the sports field to the Wiscasset High School. Traveling on the road headed to Augusta from Wiscasset, the entry road is before on epasses the sports field. There is a red & white sign announcing the show.

The show includes work made by local artisans . We fit into both the vintage and local artisans category and will be displaying both.

An early 1950's Andersen Chowder Bowl, signed in the hand written Andersen signature

For the last several months, I have been photographing our vintage work and publishing it in an Air Table data base. The data base is not yet ready for prime time and so is not yet publicly accessible but we will grant access by special request.

We have 467 pieces documented to date and a lot more to add. This includes everything from mint pieces to broken pieces. During the 65 years in which Andersen Design has been producing ceramic art and design, many one of a kind decorated pieces were created using our slip cast designs as a canvas. Back in the day, when there was no instant documentation technology. the best pieces were quickly sold without a record being made. We got to keep the broken or chipped works. 

Recently I found a box of broken rectangular trays completely blacked with soot, because they had been in a house fire. I washed off the soot and found underneath a jig saw puzzle of decorative ceramic drawings by my mother. They look like an artists sketch pad but they are not as easy to do in ceramics as they look. Ceramics is not a what-you-see-is-what-you-get technology. Colors after being fired look nothing like the un-fired colors. Ceramic colors are also very sensitive to teh weight of application. My mother ( Brenda Andersen)'s drawings looked so spontaneous that one can only presume that she had a very intuitive relationship to the ceramic decorating process. This kind of work is rarely done, especially not in production ceramics, which is why I often say that Andersen Design was doing production as an art form long before it was invented by Andy Warhol.
A drawing of the author of this blog as a young girl by Brenda Andersen

Although many of our retained works are broken, they represent a larger body of work that is out there across the American landscape, individualistic - one- of- a - kind artists work which has never been recorded for prosperity. This is one task we hope to accomplish through the Andersen Design Museum of American Designer Craftsmen.

So come to the show at WiscassetCommunity Center on Saturday and see what a historical perspective of one of America's most unusual and classic ceramic design companies looks like. See you there!
Three of Brenda's Studio work done on the large Egg Form Vase by Weston


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Mackenzie Andersen Makes Finalist in Pen Literary Rewards for Public Private Relationships and the New Owners of the means of Production


The combination of our New York and Los Angeles offices and membership strongholds will provide tent poles on each coast, enabling us to accelerate efforts to build a truly national organization.
 Our goal is to build a national constituency of writers and readers who are energized to defend open discourse; foster the exchange of ideas across political, geographic and ideological bounds; amplify unheard voices; and stand with writers and creators who face persecution. Over the last year, PEN America has taken new steps to engage and mobilize members across the country through events, activities and leadership development in more than a dozen cities including Tulsa, Tucson, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Detroit, and New Orleans.

The timing of this union is no coincidence as we face potent challenges to free speech, press freedom, the right to dissent, and the open flow of information here in the United States. Never have the voices of writers and their allies been so essential. Members of the writing community have a vital role to play in shaping public discourse, resisting encroachments on treasured freedoms, and standing with those on the front lines to safeguard the values at the heart of PEN’s mission. These treacherous times have prompted a far-reaching discussion about how PEN’s manifold efforts could be fortified. It became obvious that rather than toiling separately, we should marshal our energies, resources, and ideas in order to maximize our collective impact in the United States and around the world.

Last Summer I entered my ongoing project Public Private Relationships and the New Owners of the Means of Production in the Oral History category of the Pen Literary awards .It is the first writing competition which I have entered and so to make it as far as the finalists is very encouraging.

 The entry confirmation said this:

Dear Susan Andersen, 

Thank you for submitting Public Private Relationships and the New Owners of the Means of Production for the 2018 PEN/Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History. We are writing to confirm that we received your application, and if we should require any additional information, we’ll be sure to be in touch. 

Applicants will be notified immediately when/if their project is no longer under consideration. If you should have any questions in the meantime, please write to

Please visit for updates regarding the timing for the announcement of the winner of the award. 

Thank you! 
PEN Literary Awards

Then I didn't hear back until I received this: 

Dear Susan Andersen, 

Thank you for submitting Public Private Relationships and the New Owners of the Means of Production for the 2018 PEN/Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History. The overall quality of this year's applications was quite high, making for some very difficult decisions for our judges. The judges have made their final selections, and I regret to inform you that your project has not been chosen as the winner. 

We are tremendously grateful for your submission to this award, and we hope that you will consider submitting another project of yours for this award in the future. Submissions for the 2019 Awards Cycle will open in the late spring. 

Please note that due to the large volume of applications that our judges review, they are unable to offer feedback or recommendations on any particular project. 

We know this isn’t the update you were hoping for, but we would nevertheless like to take this opportunity to wish you the best of success with your work. 

Best regards, 
The PEN America Literary Awards Department 

588 Broadway Suite 303, New York, NY 10012, USA | | @penamerican 
The Freedom to Write

You can go here to view the submission:

Monday, February 19, 2018

Wendy Rosen's Campaign for Indelible Labeling Meets the Global State's Foreign Trade Zones.

Click to Go to our KickStarter Campaign Preview

I saw this Posted on FaceBook by Wendy Rosen, a mover and shaker in the American crafts market:


Wendy Rosen has been advocating for indelible labeling of imports for years. During the beginning of the Baldacci administration, Wendy Rosen sent me an initiative on this and I submitted it to "the creative economy list serve" a list serve sponsored by Maine's public-private government, jurored by its friends. My message asked Mainers to contact Olympia Snowe but the overlords of the listserve rejected my submission.

I then took the message to a local craft fair. I could not even finish my first sentence before people were grabbing it out of my hand. I told them that it had been rejected from the list serve. Someone suggested I contact Mrs Baldacci. I did so but did not get a personal response from the Governor's wife. However, several months later I received a demented apology from the list serve jurors, explaining that they thought it was spam.

Years later while researching for my book, "Public Private Relationships and the New Owners of the Means of Production", I learned that the labels are removed at foreign trade zones. Maine receives federal money for setting up foreign trade zones. Corporation with shareholders are required to maximise profits, which they do by locating production where labor is least expensive. Large corporations make higher profits than American made hand crafts and so the state protects the interests of global markets, as is written into the Legislative treatise establishing the DECD, which manages the foreign trade zones. The findings section of the statute establishing Maine's Department of Economic and Community Development illuminates a a philosophy in which the State’s function is to facilitate globalism and to conform to the new world order in which manufacturing takes place where ever the cost of labor is the least in the global economy.
§13051. Legislative findings (Department of Economic and Community Development)

The Legislature finds that the State's economy is linked to the national and international economies. Economic changes and disruptions around the world and in the nation have a significant impact upon the State's economy. The rise of 3rd-world and 4th-world countries as manufacturers of commodities for mass markets and the gradual evolution of the national economy to a technological, informational, specialty product-based economy have significantly affected the State and its communities. [RR 2013, c. 2, §5 (COR).] 
 In order for the State's economy to grow and gain a solid footing, it is necessary to determine the State's assets and the economic opportunities that are or will be available to the State's enterprise, municipalities and labor force. When these opportunities are determined or become apparent, state economic development policies and programs must be focused on facilitating the realization of these opportunities and removing barriers that impede the exploitation of these opportunities. [1987, c. 534, Pt. A, §§17, 19 (NEW).] (emphasis mine)
The Legislature finds that an economic development strategy designed to focus the State's economic development activities and resources on economic opportunities can significantly help the State and its municipalities realize greater growth and prosperity without adversely affecting the quality of life in the State. An economic development strategy must recognize and reflect the different needs, conditions and opportunities of the several different economic regions of the State. This strategy must be flexible and periodically evaluated to make it consistent with changes in conditions and opportunities that arise during these times of dynamic change. It is necessary to involve municipalities, regional economic development organizations and the private sector in the formulation of this strategy in order to establish a well-developed and comprehensive plan that has the support of the State's citizens and officials. [1987, c. 534, Pt. A, §§17, 19 (NEW).]

Note that in this statutory rhetoric, enterprises, municipalities, and labor force are treated as belonging to the State. For argument's sake if you take the phrase "The State" out of the sentence, it conveys a different meaning, ie" In order for the Maine economy to grow and gain a solid footing, it is necessary to determine the assets and the economic opportunities that are or will be available to enterprises, municipalities and the labor force."  The state's interest lies in managing the entire labor force in the state, which explains why entrepreneurialism is inconceivable in the bottom half of the economy which the state does not serve because it only serves "the quality jobs sector" which by definition is that sector offering a higher than average income- subsidized by the state of course! The entire labor force of Maine is conceived as belonging to the state, along with the enterprises and municipalities. The state gains ownership of the municipalities through regionalism, which gradually eliminates the municipal referendum as it transfers decision making to regional boards. That is why business ownership is discouraged in the bottom of the economy. The state has created a taxpayer subsidized top of the economy designated as the "quality jobs" sector, in which the state plays the role outlined in Mussolini's Doctrine of Fascism.
Conception of a corporative state
The Ministry of Corporations is not a bureaucratic organ, nor does it wish to exercise the functions of syndical organizations which are necessarily independent, since they aim at organizing, selecting and improving the members of syndicates. The Ministry of Corporations is an institution in virtue of which, in the centre and outside, integral corporation becomes an accomplished fact, where balance is achieved between interests and forces of the economic world. Such a glance is only possible within the sphere of the state, because the state alone transcends the contrasting interests of groups and individuals, in view of co-coordinating them to achieve higher aims. The achievement of these aims is speeded up by the fact that all economic organizations, acknowledged, safeguarded and supported by the Corporative State, exist within the orbit of Fascism; in other terms they accept the conception of Fascism in theory and in practice. (speech at the opening of the Ministry of Corporations, July 31, 1926, in Discorsi del 1926, Milano, Alpes, 1927, p. 250) The Doctrine of Fascism, Benito Mussolini, 193239
In Maine, today, one could just replace "The Ministry of Corporations:with §3304.Industry partnerships, passed by the Maine Legislature in 2015.

One also finds the historical origins of the "quality jobs" sector in Mussolini's writings:
Grouped According to their several interests, individuals form classes; they form trade-unions when organized according to their several economic activities; but first and foremost they form the State, which is no mere matter of numbers, the sums of the individuals forming the majority. Fascism is therefore opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number but it is the purest form of democracy if the nation be considered as it should be from the point of view of quality rather than quantity. The Doctrine of Fascism 

It is not the role of the DECD or Maine’s creative economy to protect American and Maine made products from fraudulent imitators. If the local government does not protect the interest of Maine and American made manufacturing from fraudulent imitators abroad, then who does? Foreign Trade Zones facilitate the foreign imitators by providing the facilities where the transformation of the identity of country of origin can take place.

Recently, I checked out the donation page of a local economic development group. There I found Aid To Artisans, a Washington DC based non-profit dedicated to using the crafts to help low income people develop economic independence in "emerging countries", though sometimes they say "all over the world". I have never received an enthusiastic response from the local economic development group, or from any other economic development group in Maine. Usually I do not receive an answer to my correspondence. When I do, it is a list of classes for "start ups" or a link to a different organization. When I asked for help with our business plan from the local economic development group, I mentioned that my partner had been in talks with someone from their organization about licensing but I not heard back from them in months. Thereafter my partner heard back but was told they only deal with one person per company, to let her know why I would not receive a response.  I developed my business plan on my own, as a working partner business plan.

Here is the description about what Aid to Artisans does from their website:
This new partnership will broaden ATA’s capacity to transform artisan skills into profitable businesses in emerging countries. ATA’s signature approach is centered on market driven product development, entrepreneurial training and access to ATA’s international buyer network, developed during more than 38 years of creating sustainable income for artisans in more than 110 countries. Creative Learning brings expertise in large-scale development initiatives aimed at improving infrastructure, upgrading health and education, creating jobs, and preventing or reversing damage to the environment. With support in management and program design from Creative Learning, ATA will continue to leverage its global expertise for compounded economic impact, bolstering linkages between artisans and international markets Aid To Artisans, About Us ( emphasis mine)
Like most organizations in Maine, the local development group uses the coded language of the State rhetoric. In the global economy, with many organizations, expressing their goals using similar language and concepts, crafts are used to develop economic independence in "third world countries", where the global low cost labor markets used by large corporations with obligations to the shareholders to maximize profits, manufacture. Is there a connection to the "grass roots"  non-profit global economic development initiatives which use the crafts to stimulate economic independence ? "Crafts", "making", and "manufacture" are words which mean the same thing, but in American politically correct society, "production" is a word on the "Do not use list". My application for fiscal sponsorship as a social enterprise, which would use the crafts as a way to develop economic independence in low income areas of Maine, was rejected because I used the word "production" on my application, which the board said meant I was only in it for the money, although Andersen Design has never had shareholders and so is not obligated to maximize profits. We competed successfully for years in a market dominated by products made in global low-ost markets. The large corporations which sells a mug in the same price range as we do, but has it manufactured in the global low cost market, makes a much larger profit.

PREVIEW LINK TO ANDERSEN DESIGN KICKSTARTER PROJECTWe Need To Develop A list of supporters who will pledge on day  one before we can launch.We are also looking for talent who can help us to produce the video

Later I ran into the taboo against the word "production" when I invited a local individual over to meet with our group about developing a video for our Kickstarter project, or so I thought. Instead he sat at the table and proceeded to play the role of business consultant. When I used the word "production", he stopped me mid-sentence, to tell me I should not use that word. He then proceeded to tell us that we cannot do a Kickstarter because we are not a start-up company- using the word "kickstarter" to justify his logic, displaying his lack of real research into the development of KickStarter. KickStarter is being used today to launch products on the market and to finance ceramic production studios. Kickstarter is a free enterprise development, which is a counter political philosophy to a centrally managed economy. Perhaps this explains why one finds no support for developing a KickStarter project from local economic development groups, apparent extensions of the state, whose political philosophy is expressed above in the findings for Maine's Department of Economic and Community Development, which performs the planning function for the FAME corporation, which concentrates and redistributes wealth in Maine. And the web weaves on.

Our would-be collaborator never discussed making a video.It amazes me that one cannot find support for making a video. This is a natural business for someone to start up in today's economy or for economic development groups to offer, but it seems, it is not consistent with central management's agenda to offer services which might help independent grass roots entrepreneurs in the USA.

So many years later Wendy Rosen is still an activist for indelible labels on foreign imports and still the government does nothing.It is aligned with the new global world order like any hot shot should be!

This is Part three in a Series which starts HERE