the end of an era

Submitted by Susan Miller on Tue, 12/30/2008 - 10:18.

In today's news we learn of the end of an era - Jim Mazurkeiwicz retires and Potter Mellen closes its doors.

Here's a sample of Jim's work from the still live Potter Mellen website:

The era of wealth and opulence, of painstakingly focused jewelry making may be shifting, too right here in NEO. The history of Potter Mellen goes back long before my time. I have enjoyed learning about it.

Potter gold work is highly detailed and extremely accomplished

Company / Mark

Dates

H.E. Potter

1897-1907

Potter Shop

1908-1915

Potter Studio

1915-1924

Potter Studio, Inc.

1925-1928

Potter-Bentley Studios

1928-1933

Potter and Mellen

1933 - present

For a few years, I had the pleasure of handling rings designed by John Paul Miller for winners of the Cleveland Arts Prize's Bergman Prizes. In 2006, when Greg Reese won the prize, I worked with John Paul Miller who graciously agreed to size the ring. In 2007 and 08, he demurred and suggested Jim Mazurkeiwicz at Potter Mellen.

John Paul Miller's work can be viewed here at Enamel Online. Be sure to enlarge the images of these amazing works.

I did not grow up in the blueblood eastern suburbs of Cleveland, so my first encounter with Potter Mellen was around the time I arrived here and went to the store on Carnegie Avenue to have a piece of jewelry cleaned and appraised.  A stunning array of one of a kind pieces of jewelry, silver serving pieces and pottery met my eyes. When I was married, I received gifts in boxes labeled Potter Mellen from long time Clevelanders who knew the cachet a gift from Potter Mellen carried. Now gifts from Potter Mellen will be no more.

Cleveland can be proud of its metalsmithing legacy. It's designers and craftspersons are world renowned. These magnificent lasting gold and silver works are made right here in quiet small storefronts and home studios. They do not need large facilties to be important aspects of NEO's mark on the world.

I had a call last year from a museum curator asking if she might use an image from the website of the Arts Prize for a show of American modernist jewelry in Indiana. She wanted to use a photo of John Paul Miller, the most renowned goldsmith of our time. I suggested that she phone him at home where he still crafts his wondrous works. I said, do not forego an opportunity to speak with one of the most gracious unassuming gentlemen you will ever have the pleasure of chatting with.

So for posterity and before their website goes dark, I copy the history of Potter Mellen here:

"Horace Ephraim Potter was born in Cleveland, Ohio on December 10th, 1873. In 1899, The Potter Shop was opened to showcase his decorative metal work and jewelry.

dish designed by Horace Potter - CMA collection

1910 dish designed by Horace Potter - Cleveland Museum of Art Collection

Potter was a graduate of the Cleveland School of Art. His artistic expertise involved incorporating decorative design elements and historic ornament into handwrought brass and silver objects, as well as fine jewelry.

h e potter mark

In 1907, Potter traveled to England where he gained inspiration from the Arts and Crafts Movement. This experience encouraged him to appreciate the tradition of handmade objects versus those made in the factory. He and acquaintance Louis Tiffany were instrumental in introducing the Arts and Crafts Movement in America. Potter exhibited his jewelry and holloware in the Studio as well as major art museums throughout the country.

potter bentley mark

In 1928, The Potter Studio became The Potter Bentley Studios with the addition of partner Gurdon W. Bentley, and the firm moved to East 105th Street and Carnegie Avenue. The firm expanded its product lines to include fine china, silver jewelry and garden accessories. In 1933, Bentley withdrew from the company, and Louis Mellen became partner. Potter and Mellen, Inc. was established as a new corporation.

potter mellen mark

Horace E. Potter died in 1948, and in 1967, Louis Mellen sold the firm to both Frederick Miller and Jack Schlundt, both renowned designer and silversmiths. Together both maintained the tradition of handwrought jewelry and holloware. Ellen Stirn Mavec, the present owner, bought Potter and Mellen in 1989. She continued Mr Potter's legacy of world class design and craftsmanship by hiring Jim Mazurkewicz, master goldsmith/designer, who was trained by both Fred Miller and John Paul Miller.

In 2005, Potter and Mellen returned to its roots and now only specializes in Potter and Mellen designed and handcrafted jewelry as well as custom design and the services listed under Our Services. These exquisite and classic collections are available on line and in selected jewelry stores across the country."

I'm sure some of you born and raised Clevelanders will have memories to share. For me it hasbeen an odessy of discovery, eyes wide, jaw dropped. I included a link to an oral history here with John Paul Miller and attach an article about Frederick Miller.

 

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The killing of Potter and Mellon

Whle I am very familliar with and love the work of the Potter and Mellon artists featured here, I take great exception to the paragraph in this article that discredits our new metal artists in town, produced by Potter and Mellon artists at the Cleveland Insitute of Art...

Mazurkewicz might be the last of Cleveland's hand-crafting master goldsmiths. These are the days of diamond-focused jewelry and young artists who'd rather jump into the foundry fire than spend 60 hours painstakingly transforming a piece of precious metal.

I make a point to go to the CIA student shows each year and am always amazed by the metal work there. This article could have championed their work, but instead negates their existence in this community. Pathetic.

I'd like to meet with John Campanelli and David Deming at the CIA to explore John's perspectives.

To me, Potter and Mellon died when they abandoned Cleveland... what happens in Beachwood may stay in Beachwood, and then die.

Ta ta NEO arts and culture, Potter and Mellon, and "the last of Cleveland's hand-crafting master goldsmiths"... more victims of the sprawling of our poor leadership here.

Disrupt IT

I'm sure some of you born

I'm sure some of you born and raised Clevelanders will have memories to share. For me it hasbeen an odessy of discovery, eyes wide, jaw dropped. I included a link to an oral history here with John Paul Miller and attach an article about Frederick Miller. loan problems