the first century captured in the british columbia ceramic mark registry

The British Columbia Ceramic Mark Registry (BCCMR) was initiated in 2005 to help artists, collectors, researchers, and others become more familiar with ceramics in BC through identifying individual potters' marks and providing artist profiles.

The initial registry first published in 2018  had 260 marks and limited biographical information. The current version has over 1000 entries, some with detailed information and others still needing further research and attention. New information will be made available in frequent updates.

Marks have come from enthusiastic collectors and artists themselves, while biographical  information has come from  interviews with artists and from publicly accessible catalogues, books, newsletters, magazines, newspapers, and websites.

Unlike the previous version, names in the new Registry can be cross-referenced. To that end, artists, collectors and historians wishing to add information are encouraged to include names of schools, mentors, teachers, students and colleagues, accompanied by DATES.

Inevitably there will be discrepancies and omissions - for which we apologize in advance.

Not every artist mark/signature/stamp has been identified (see ‘Unknown Marks’) and some artists have yet to have marks associated with them.

If you wish to EDIT your profile already existing in the Registry, email Debra Sloan debraesloan@gmail.com 

We are actively fact-checking the biographical entries but cannot promise absolute accuracy. Please note that BCCMR is not a valuation or authentication tool and is for research purposes only.

For ceramic artists wishing to be included in the Registry:

Please use our submission forms.  Please include  - Name, date and place of birth, studio name and location, education (dates) exhibitions (dates) exhibitions, collections and publications.  

BCCMR is a living entity. Debra Sloan, as well as Staff at the CCBC will oversee the information and add to the Registry on a regular basis.

history + purpose of bccmr

Please read on about why and how the BCCMR has evolved.

Knowledge of pottery-making initially came to BC from abroad.

Mary Young came from Ontario to teach in Summerland and Victoria in 1923.

Starting in the mid 1920s, BC's first potter, Axel Ebring established himself in the Okanagan, producing a kind of unpretentious peasant ware based on the country pottery he learned in his native Sweden.

In 1927, Grace Melvin came from the Glasgow School of Art and taught basic pottery to VSA students until 1952

In the 1950s and 1960s, master potters Barbara Baanders, Robert Weghsteen, and Jan Grove arrived with advanced training, Weghsteen teaching at the VSA starting in 1958, Baanders at the Ross-Huyghe School and Grove at UVic, both in the 1960s. Many others with training and experience followed to establish studios or to disseminate knowledge and techniques through workshops.       

During 2005, the year of the Potters Guild of British Columbia’s  (PGBC) 50th Anniversary - the oldest provincial ceramic guild in Canada - it became apparent that many BC ceramics could not be identified.  Consequently the BC ceramic practice within the larger context of the Arts in BC would remain under-appreciated.  It was also apparent that now was the time to capture histories that could still be located or were held within living memories.

Debra Sloan has been active in the BC ceramic community for over 50 years and has had contact with some of the 1950 Ceramic Hut potters and is in touch with contemporary artists.  She felt compelled to record what could be recovered and to lay down a present-day foundation for future researchers. After years of collecting marks, she called upon the Craft Council of BC for support and expertise to build a digital platform, a task performed by Intern Tatiana Povoroznyuk.  The Registry is now known as the BC Ceramic Mark Registry  or BCCMR.

In 2021, Debra asked Allan Collier, specialist in Canadian 20th Century craft and design, to join the enterprise. Allan contributed marks to the original Registry from his own large collection. He has since done extensive research for several craft and design retrospectives, most recently Modern in the Making  (VAG 2020)  to which he contributed over forty ceramic artists’ profiles. These and others have been made available through the vanartgallery link, courtesy of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Debra asked the PGBC Editor to publish a call for artist submissions.  She assembled makers’ biographies through historic PGBC Newsletters, photographed marks at potter’s studios, and at collectors’ homes -  in particular, her main source - collector John Lawrence. Her own collection provided many marks. 

The primary job for this registry has been to identify BC artists. Biographical information adds context, and names of schools, teachers and colleagues are included for cross-reference.  The ceramic practice has historically operated within the social context of family or village, where tasks and facilities were shared, and technology and knowledge were shared. During this research it has become apparent that the modern ‘studio practice’ in BC is sustaining both innovative and social  traditions.