Margaret Kelly Cable, born in Minnesota in 1884, moved to Minneapolis in the early 1900s to study ceramics at the Guild of Handicrafts. In 1909, Earle Babcock, instructor of Chemistry, English, and Geology at the University of North Dakota, started the Ceramics Department to study the valuable clay resources North Dakota had to offer and he asked Cable to head it.
Cable began teaching at UND in 1910 while continuing her education in the summers, working and studying under famous ceramists around the country. At UND, Cable was known for interesting lectures and demonstrations. In 1915, Cable was accepted into the American Ceramic Society (ACS). She went on to write several papers on her work and research at UND that were published in the ACS’s journal.
Cable gained national recognition when she was chosen to be “North Dakota’s Outstanding Woman” at the 1927 Women’s World Fair in Chicago, IL. That same year, Cable built her first home, on the campus at the University of North Dakota. The home was demolished in 2006. 1927 proved to be a successful year for Cable when she was highlighted by the New York Times “Current Activities in the World of Art” section on August 21st. In the article, Cable explained the research UND Ceramics was doing with North Dakota clay. In 1933, Cable attended the Century of Progress Exposition where her work was described as an “outstanding exhibition of United States pottery”.
Margaret Kelly Cable retired from UND in 1949 after 39 years of teaching. Her work is remembered for the high level of skill it exhibits as well as its representation of native plants and animals of North Dakota, Native American cultural symbols, and art deco and art nouveau inspired styles. After retiring from her successful career at the University of North Dakota, she moved to California with her sister, Flora Cable Huckfield, another influential UND ceramist, to be closer to family. In 1951, she earned the Binns Medal of Excellence in Art from Alfred University and the American Ceramics Society. Cable passed away October 31, 1960. Over 100 years after she was hired to run it, the UND Ceramics Department is still in operation today.
p. 3-13 University of North Dakota Pottery: The Cable Years by Margaret Libby Barr, Donald Miller, and Robert Barr
Years Attended School
5.5 x 8
Date of Work
C CBL 118-0720 gift
Blue Sgrafitto images of Dakota Maidflower turkey images, flax, clover, corn, wheat, cows, sheep, hogs. The crown-jewel of the of the Cable era, it was commissioned by then Governor Sorlie in 1926.
blue (color); sgraffito (technique); flax; cows; livestock; vases
M Cable 1926 Seal. North Dakota (handpainted) Products, 1926 made for Governor A.G. Sorlie by Margret Kelly Cable handpainted. [Known as the Sorlie Vase].
Excellent, slight crazing
Gorecki Alumni Center
Cable, Margaret Kelly, "C CBL 118-0720 Gift, ND Products Vase" (1926). UND Pottery Collection. 1764.
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Swine; Turkeys, Pottery