UND Pottery Collection


Artist Bio

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











image preview

Years Attended School



10" diameter

Creation Date


Date of Work


Identification #

C CBL 053-0223


Persian art, or Iranian art, has served as an influence for many in the West. The use of goats in Persian pottery dates back as far as 4th millennium BC. With diverse beliefs held by various cultural groups, such as the ability for its horns to bring rain, the mountain goat has historically been adored and worshipped, resulting in its frequent presence in art and architecture.

Margaret Kelly Cable was recruited in 1910 by UND Chemistry Professor and State Geologist, Earle Jay Babcock, to establish a Ceramics Department at the School of Mines. Her goal was to prove the viability of North Dakota’s native clays, which in turn could provide economic and commercial development opportunity in the region. She went on to teach for the next 39 years, building an unprecedented legacy through her research, pottery making, and mentorship. Cable sought inspiration regionally and globally, as seen in the Persian-style motif of the ceramic compote.

Included in Fables, Insults, and Reverence: The Animals of UND Art Collections Exhibition at the UND Art Collections Gallery in the Empire Arts Center

Art Descriptors

dinner plates; blue (color); flowers (plants); floral patterns; motifs; borders (ornament areas)

UND Seal


Cable Seal


Identifying Markings

Seal. M.Cable. 1932 #810 handpainted.

Production Number

810 ?



Condition Notes

Crack on bottom side of rim, however it does not change the sound of piece


Stored: Crate 1


UND Art Collections Repository


Images are provided for educational purposes only and may not be reproduced for commercial use. Images may be protected by artist copyright. A credit line is required to be used for any public non-commercial educational purpose. The credit line must include, “Image courtesy of the University of North Dakota.”


Birds; Goats, Pottery