Twist and Shout

Twist and Shout
Life is never straight (Joey Kulkin photo)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Vignettes from Vermont: Stoneware Way Up There in White Man Indian Land

Cascadia Stoneware gold spiral serving bowl

BENNINGTON -- Two big boxes traveled a long way this week, from Deming, Washington, to Bennington, Vermont ...

... a journey of 2,999.7 miles.

Inside the boxes were 39 pieces of handmade stoneware, from baker's bowls to cereal bowls to platters to olive oil cruets to cream and sugar sets to mugs and steins to double condiment servers to more serving bowls to lotion bottles to soap dishes. Their glazes have names such as "goldstone" and "midnight blue" and "galaxy" and "lavender sunset" and "gold spiral" and "cascade blue" -- and customers at Fiddlehead at Four Corners art gallery in downtown Bennington eat it up like candy.

Which is why Fiddlehead owner and curator Joel Lentzner ordered 39 more pieces from Cascadia Stoneware USA, owned by Jeff and Natalie McDougall of Deming, Washington. One of the first things you see at Cascadia's website is Jeff's artist statement:

"Raised on a small farm in the rainy Pacific Northwest, I spent a great deal of time playing in the mud. However, it wasn't until I was an undergrad at Western Washington University that I discovered the potters' wheel and that I could make beautiful yet practical things with clay. I started my first pottery business in my parent's barn, and began making a living as a potter while finishing my degree in ceramics. I then became the primary potter at Mud In Your Eye Pottery in Bellingham, WA. The Mud In Your Eye store is closed however we are still making many of the same pieces along with our own unique work at Cascadia Stoneware.

"I love the rich and ancient history of pottery and am inspired by the connection I feel to the earth while working with clay. My goal is to combine traditional, functional shapes with vibrant glazes, to create pottery that is both useful and beautiful.

"With 10 years of experience as a studio potter, I'm happy to be working now with my wife, Natalie. Natalie brings fresh artistic talent to Cascadia and together we make awesome pottery! We start from scratch using raw clay and finish with our own unique hand-mixed glazes. Our stoneware is fired to cone 12, (2,400 degrees), making it durable and more resistant to chipping and scratching than low-fire earthenware pottery.

"We derive a great deal of pleasure knowing we are making pottery for you to enjoy and use."

The website includes a photo essay to show how Cascadia makes its stoneware.

Cool stuff.


BUT WHAT SPARKED Art Gallery Dude's imagination more than Cascadia's stoneware was where it came from -- "Deming, Washington" -- and his first thought was "What is life like in Deming, Washington?"

At an elevation of 210 feet above sea level in Whatcom County, 15 miles east of Bellingham and 12 miles south of the Canadian border, with the Nooksack River and timber and mountains as its backdrop, Deming, Washington, is a 5.23-square-mile tale of two dynamics: white man's land named after its first postmaster, George Deming, and land that for thousands of years belonged to the tribe of Nooksack Indians.

If you were to go by the recent data numbers, Deming is tiny with 353 residents -- and that's up 68 percent from 2000. Comprising that population were 324 whites, 12 Hispanics, 7 Indians, 4 with two or more races, 3 Blacks and 3 Asians. The European effect is 46.7 percent German, 21 percent Dutch, 6.7 percent English and 4.8 percent Irish.

A chart displays the most common first name among the deceased and their average lifespan: William (12 of them, 73.9 years), John (11, 61.2), Robert (9, 72.8), Mary (9, 76.3), James (9, 77.2), Donald (7, 73.1), Joseph (7.83.3), Walter (6, 82.1), Albert (6, 78.7) and Gerald (68.3).

Two Demingites -- Daniel Pry, Kent Schroder -- have applied for patents.

Deming has one hotel (Glacier Creek Lodge); one church (Catholics are the largest religious group at 27 percent); one cemetery; two creeks; and a one-runway airport. Unemployement was 5.2 percent in 2008 then spiked to 8.5 percent in '09 and 8.9 percent in '10 before falling to 8.1 and 7.7 the next two years. Eighty-eight percent of the men in Deming work manufacturing jobs, and the other 12 percent work in retail, meaning none work in forestry, fishing, hunting, mining, quarrying, oil or gas extraction, construction, wholesale trade or transportation and warehousing.

The nearest cities are Kendall, Nooksack, Acme and Peaceful Valley. The nearest city with 200,000 or more residents is Seattle at 83.4 miles south. The nearest city with 1 million population is L.A. at 1,038 miles south. Vancouver is only 65 miles north if you're up for a Canucks game or grade-A weed, or both, although you can spark grade-A weed in Washington State now, so who needs the Canucks?

But anyway. No movie stars or famous singers or pro athletes have emerged from Deming, but the town does feature North Fork Brewery -- or "The Beer Shrine" ...

North Fork Brewery ... for more click HERE

It's where you go to eat pizza, drink beer and, on a good day, watch someone get married. But lovers must adhere to these guidelines to get married there:


NOW, ANOTHER SET OF DATA at makes you wonder how they came up with the "7 Indians" because ...

"We are a Tribe of approximately 2,000 members, located in our ancestral homeland in the northwest corner of Washington State. Our name comes from a place name in our language and translates to “always bracken fern roots,” which illustrates our close ties to our land and the resources that continue to give strength to our people.

"Our Tribe is located in Deming, Washington, just 15 miles east of Bellingham, 12 miles south of the Canadian Border, nestled amongst majestic mountains, lush forest, and the meandering and dynamic Nooksack River.

"Here in this scenic locale, we maintain a Tribal Council and Tribal Government. Both our Council and Government work to create a better future for every Nooksack and ensure our Tribe’s sovereignty."

So, indeed, it's a tale of two lands.

If you sniff around the Nooksack website long enough you'll stumble upon a 24-page Nooksack Indian Tribe Strategic Plan 2012-2022:


Whether Deming, Washington, has 353 residents or 2,353 residents, two of them are Jeff and Natalie McDougall, who create beautiful stoneware. Here are some of their works for sale at Fiddlehead and its website ... click to embiggen.

Addendum: Check out the Nooksack River Casino HERE.