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Potter Art Metal Studios: Ornamental Lighting and Metalwork
Potter Art Lantern Logo

 

Potter Art Metal Studios... a look back in no particular order.

 


 

1950's  Potter Art Metal Comic

This is a Collier's funny from November 11, 1950

"I like men who make things.  Like Mr. Potter.  He made $50,000 last year"

by Kate Osann

 


 

 

FD Luxe (Dallas Morning News)- published October 01, 2010

Local color

FROM THE REVIVAL OF A HISTORIC MINERAL WELLS HOTEL TO A DESIGN-OBSESSED DALLAS BLOGGER'S LATEST FAVES, WE'VE GOT THE INSIDE LINE

BY KRISTIE RAMIREZ

Iron men For the detail-obsessed there's no better place to turn for house jewelry then Potter Art Metal Studios (potterartmetal.com). Celebrating its 90th anniversary this year, the fourth-generation-owned metal studio hasn't changed much in the way it hand-forges sconces, gates and chandeliers, save for moving from its home on Henderson Avenue to bigger digs near the Design District in 2007. The family tradition was passed to owner Richard Potter Jr. (his triplets work alongside him every summer), who remains deeply dedicated to the craft of custom-only pieces for clients. The heirloom designs are so deeply woven into the fabric of Dallas that they turn up in both amazing variety and vast in different neighborhoods - cinematic swirls of stair railing in Lakewood, painstakingly detailed iron gates in Highland Park and intricate light fixtures in Fair Park. Guests of the 37th annual Cattle Baron's Ball on Oct. 9 will have a chance to bid on a bespoke vineyard-inspired chandelier (left) from the lauded metal studios as part of the evening's fundraising auction.

(A little PS. This is really neat. There is an article on the next page, The fabulous Baker reborn, which talks about the 80 year old Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells which is going to be renovated. Anyway, they talk about the Stoneigh Hotel in Dallas which was also renovated by Jeff Trigger... so the neat part is that Richard's grandfather originally did the metalwork for it and the Baker Hotel in Dallas (not sure about the Mineral Wells one)... and we recently re-furbished the Stoneligh Hotel Metalwork and added another stair rail section to it. Just a bit of neat!)


 

Dallas Business Journal - August 6-12, 2010


IDEAS IN ACTION


Iron Man


POTTER ART META STUDIO FORGES WORKS OF FUNCTIONAL ART WHILE GROWING A 90-YEAR-OLD FAMILY BUSINESS LEGACY
BY CHRIS CYREK | STAFF WRITER


Showers of sparks, the clank of hammer against anvil, the whir of a high-speed circular saw. These are some of the sights and sounds in Richard Potter?s Potter Art Metal Studio, a 90-year-old family enterprise. The high-end metal shop, started by Potter?s grandfather Henry in 1920, has developed a reputation for quality and artistry.


Evidence for this can be found on the bustling work floor: soaring stair railings that appear to be entwined by flaring pine cones, driveway gates that close to form the branches of an oak tree, a chandelier that looks as if it was spirited away from a hobbit?s hole.


?The quality and detail that I put into a thing,? says owner Richard Potter, a fourth-generation metalworker, ?is, I think, fairly reflected in the price.?
The focus on high-end work has allowed the shop to grow despite prevailing economic pressures. ?Plus, people are coming directly to the manufacturer, so they?re not dealing with a retail store markup.? Potter sells directly from the shop to customers nationwide.


The Metalwork ? a typical fan/chandelier installation can run up to $10,000 ? has helped Potter Metal withstand the recession. Lean times were met with shared sacrifices as costs were cut.
A rebuilt website, new advertising initiatives and positive press concerning recent high-profile projects ? such as an 11-foot tall chandelier built for the council chambers in University Park and a strikingly original fireplace built for longtime friend Trammell Crow ? also are helping the studio get Potter?s name out. ?More and more contacts are from out of town and out of state,? Potter says.
Potter grew up in the shop, once located on Knox-Henderson at Central Expressway.


?When I was a kid, we didn?t have computers, barely any TV. The fun thing for me was coming down here and spending time in the back, watching the guys making different things,? he says.


Potter took over the shop in the 1970s, continuing a business his father, grandfather and great-grandfather worked in. Three years ago, Potter moved the shop to a larger location off of Interstate 35.
The addition of creative director Izabela Wojcik in 2005 shaped a new direction for the studio, although Potter points out that many of their techniques his crew uses would be recognizable to his grandfather.


Founder Henry Potter began the business after meeting a salesman for Sanger-Harris (now Foley?s), who ordered 100 light fixtures after seeing Potter building lights for his house. The business quickly grew, and some of the original work done by Henry Potter can still be found around Dallas, such as lighting fixtures that dot Fair Park.


World War II brought a new focus for the business, which shifted production to building aircraft parts. The company?s payroll swelled to hundreds of employees, and the good times continued into the post-war boom, as the Potter studios left its mark on large churches, country clubs and homes throughout the ?50s.
The family legacy continues today, says Richard Potter. His three children ? triplets ? spend their summers in the shop, learning the family craft. It?s a point of pride for Potter.


?I?m not here (working) as a hobby,? he says. ?I?m putting out the best product, made in the most efficient way.?


Customers at Potter Metal tend to come back, time and time again. ?We get clients that are around for years,? says Wojcik.


?They definitely do stand out,? says Kathy Hatcher, an interior designer who has worked closely with Potter for a number of years. ?Their metalwork is unsurpassed.? Hatcher praises the metal studio?s versatility and ability to work in styles and materials as varied as art deco, Spanish and alabaster.


?Every last bit of what they do is hand-forged, and it?s made to last for centuries, and for generations,? she says.


Potter is proud of his shop?s legacy and of its ability to custom-build products to specification.


?The only thing that I won?t do is drop my quality,? Potter says. ?I?ve had some places that I as doing fixtures for, and they asked if we could do some cheaper pieces. I said no. Look, I am constantly on top of my guys to build things the best way possible. The last thing I?m going to tell them to do is to go do the opposite.?



Dallas Morning News

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Local Talent

Wrought with possibilities

by Rita Cook (social contributor)

Polish-American metal artist and designer Izabela Wojcik, 31, says she finds inspiration for her work just about anywhere. Really, the possibilities are endless, and my ideas come from maybe seeing a fixture to sometimes even noticing a funny clasp on a shoe," she says.

Wojcik works for Potter Art Metal Studios in Dallas, designing custom pieces such as chandeliers, gazebos and even staircases, and doing everything except twisting the metal.

"I don't specifically do the metal work, because I would break my arms doing what the guys do here," she says.

She has cultivated her knowledge of metals, taking into consideration not only the beauty of a piece, but also its functionality. When designing a piece in metal, you have to know how the metal will work together and to what extent they can be manipulated," she says.

She starts with paper and pencil and sometimes uses a computer. After her design is completed, company meal artisans forge the pieces.

The Potter studios did the metalwork on many historic homes in the Lakewood neighborhood, as well as light fixtures at Fair Park and White Rock Lake, among other Dallas landmarks. Wojcik, who received a liberal arts degree in 2001, has been with the company since 2005.

She says clients seem to be asking for interior railings, doors, chandeliers and exterior lanterns, usually in wrought iron. She says that's the strongest metal, and also a good choice for cost-conscious homeowners. She says this season's colors are either chocolate rust or natural wrought-iron look.

The most unusual item she's designed since working at Potter would be the Art Nouveau fireplace mantel for developer Trammell Crow.

"Between that first drawing and when the piece was actually completed about six months later, lots of changes were made," she says. The finished piece - 600 pounds of hand-wrought and polished iron - "looked like a piece of museum-quality art for sure."

Pieces for her work range from $800 for a candle wall sconce to $3,750 for a lantern to $18,000 for a bronze table.

She's currently working on a pine-tree interior railing to be made from wrought iron.

"The client for this particular piece is surrounded by pine trees and wanted to bring the outside into their home. The pinecones, needles and tree-branch textures are amazingly realistic; we even made little baby pinecones among the needles," she says.

Wojcik also continues her personal artistic pursuits, creating bronze sculptures, oil and acrylic paintings, pencil drawings and glass art.

"Unless I'm specifically commissioned for a project, I really never have any idea where a piece will take me," she says. "It is not until after the artwork is completed and I have had time to take it in that I can let the feelings come to me and realize what has been put on canvas or molded in clay.

Izabela Wojcik's work is available through Potter Art Metal Studios, 4827 Memphis St., Dallas; 214-821-1419. See samples of her work atwww.potterartmetal.comor www.belaart.com

Rita Cook is an Arlington-based freelance writer


The 37th Annual Cattle Baron?s Ball Benefitting the American Cancer Society
The Great State Fair: Cattle Baron's Ball 2010
ByPaperCity Staff October 01, 2010
Saturday, October 9, 2010, at 7 pm
Big Tex Awaits:For more information or to purchase tickets to the 2010 Cattle Baron?s Ball, dial 214.443.9222, clickcattlebaronsball.com, or e-mailcattlebaronsball@sbcglobal.net.
Cowboy Cause
The American Cancer Society, in partnership with the Cattle Baron?s Ball, has funded more than $40 million for cancer research projects at UT Southwestern Medical Center and University of North Texas Health Science Center. Supporters of the Cattle Baron?s Ball will invest in the American Cancer Society?s goal of developing more targeted therapies and new methods of preventing and detecting cancer. The American Cancer society has supported more than 20,000 grants, including funding 40 researchers who have gone on to win the Nobel Prize.

 

Bespoke Lighting
Destined to become an heirloom, this custom-designed chandelier from Potter Art Metal Studios will create dramatic ambiance in any room.
Donated by:Potter Art Metal Studios
Value:$25,000

 


 

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Park Cities News

Potter Art Metal Studios celebrates 90 years of providing jewelry for the home

Potter Art Metal Studios is proudly celebrating 90 years of making custom creations in metal. Designers and fabricators of ornamental metalwork and lighting, their work graces high-end residential and commercial projects, as well as municipal buildings and churches around the country. Potter is one of the oldest metal studios in Dallas and the southwest and produces 'functional art' destined to become heirlooms, including architectural, lighting, furnishings or other products fashioned from steel, brass, bronze, copper and aluminum.

Designers, architects, builders and individuals have long considered Potter Art Metal Studios as the go-to source for custom metal work. Products and services include: gas and electric lanterns; interior and exterior doors, gates and fencing; interior and exterior railings; chandeliers, fandeleirs, sconces, pendants and pot racks; fireplace screens and tools; gazebos; fountains and sculptures; ecclesiastical and steeple crosses, chalices and votive stands; window and door grilles; interior and exterior table bases; ornamental Vent-aHood covers, as well as historical restorations.

"We have a reputation for crafting almost anything a client can dream of in metal. We tell people that if we can't create it, you probably won't be able to get it done anywhere else. And, if we can't do it right, we just won't do it," Potter Art Metal Studios Owner Richard Potter said. "We have other shops constantly referring people to us for the toughest, most unusual jobs because they are unable to take them on. We get creative and find ways to accomplish these tough tasks well."

The metalwork studio's heritage dates back to the 1920's when Henry Cornwell Potter turned his hobby of making small wrought iron lanterns in his East Dallas garage into the thriving business. This was a skill he learned from his father Alexander Potter, who upon coming to America, brought with him knowledge of Old World hand metal working. Friends and neighbors began to take notice of Henry's craftsmanship and started purchasing his lanterns. After his wife showed one of the lanterns to a buyer at Sanger Harris Department Store, an order of 100 was placed. The rest, as they say, is history.

In 1924, Henry moved the business into a commercial space and established the studio on Henderson Avenue where the business flourished for more then 80 years. after outgrowing this space, Potter Art Metal Studios moved to its current 12,000-square-foot operation near the Dallas Design District in 2007. While growing in size and scope, however, Potter Art Metal still holds fast to the studio's tradition of custom work. In a nation built on mass production, where assembling existing components is the standard way to build, Potter creates pieces as individual as those built by the Old World blacksmiths.

Richard Potter, Henry's grandson, maintains his grandfather's legacy by making products that will become antiques and heirlooms of the future. he often involves his 20-year-old triplets during the summer months, in the hopes they may one day carry the family torch. "For four generations, we have maintained a reputation of exceeding our customers' expectations. We see this time and again as our clients return and often refer to us as their friends," Potter said.

"In my opinion Potter Art Metal is unsurpassed in both quality and art design. Amazingly, the style of art metal a home may need, or that one may dream of... Potter can design and deliver," said Kathy Hatcher of hatcher Design Group. "and, the icing on the cake is the pleasure of working with such friendly and accommodating people!"

Through the yars, Potter Art Metal Studios' work has graced some of Dallas' most recognizable homes and institutions including the famous Clifford Hutsell and Charles Dilbeck houses in Lakewood that are adorned with Potter metalwork, as well as the ornate fireplace produced for Trammell Crow's home. In addition, Potter's work can be seen at the Highland Park Library and around the Town of Highlahd Park, White Rock Lake [and Fair Park [light fixtures at the Hall of State]. Other notable projects include the Hunt Oil Building in down town Dallas, Omni Hotel in Fort Worth, The Stoneleigh Hotel, Highland Park United Methodist Church and Christ The King Catholic Church.

Potter Art Metal Studios may be famous for beautiful scrollwork and custom gas and electric light fixtures, but they can also uncover hidden treasures by refurbishing older metal pieces. UL certified, Potter can turn rusty, patinaed pieces back into something beautiful through historical restorations, repairing, rewiring, and refurbishing.

We are a dedicated group of people who truly love what we do. It is my hope that through our metalwork, we are able to leave a permanent mark in the form of beauty for future generations to appreciate and admire," Potter added.

Potter Art Metal Studios is located at 4827 Memphis Street, Dallas, Texas 75207. The showroom and studios are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Closed Saturday and sunday. For more information, design ideas and additional product detail, please visit www.potterartmetal.com or call (214) 821-1419.


 

Metal Mavens

Artisan-made metalwork is an integral element of many homes in the Southwest. Dallas-based Potter Art Metal Studios can meet most requests, as it works with everything from iron, brass and copper to bronze, aluminum and pewter Designer Izabela Wojcik says she can build almost anything from metal, including gazebos, lanterns, fencing, stair rails, sconces, chandeliers and tables.

Potter Art, which specializes in light fixtures, created this Gothic-style exterior ceiling fan and chandelier in solid brass and copper to serve as a dramatic focal point for a gazebo. The company relocated to a larger showroom at 4827 Memphis St. earlier this spring To learn more about what it has to offer, stop by the studio, go online to http://www.potterartmetal.com, or call (214) 821-1419.

Phoenix Home Garden, May 2007 issue

Firm Sees Trend Back To Hand Metal Work

Industry’s captains of mass production would probably shake their collective heads. Nonsense? Not for Tony Luna, 42-year-old metal craftsman who has spent three months hand working wrought iron and gold bronze replicas of 17th Century French architecture. Luna’s work-a balcony, gate and fountain-will be part of a $500,000 in Amarillo. It is based on designs by Dallas architect Allen Boyle from original French patterns. “Actually, there’s a definite trend back to hand metal work in homes,” says Tony’s boss, Dick Potter, of Potter Art Metal Studios. The company is one of three firms in this country doing metal artisan work. “Special tools are required to shape the metal and blend the bronze and wrought iron,” Potter explained. “The metals are hand forged and ‘buckled’ together, as done in the 17th Century, rather than welded.

The Dallas Morning News, Dallas, Texas, Tuesday, August 18, 1959

The Origin of Leadership

Generations back when pioneer Alexander Potter came to this continent, he brought with him a heritage of craftsmanship rooted deep in the Old World. There, the skill of the metal artisan had carried immense prestige since the Middle Ages and so had been handed down with pride from father to son.

Here at Potter Art Iron Studios in Dallas the inheritors of this rich tradition have been creating works of art in metal that now grace the finest homes, churches, and offices in the Southwest. They have earned for Potter a name known far and wide and a reputation for excellence in craftsmanship.

The proof of leadership and also its penalty is to be widely imitated, but imitations have a way of reflecting even greater credit on the original. Our leadership is the prize of almost 40 years of effort and unwillingness to compromise with our highest standards of quality.

We invite each and every one of you to drive out Central Express-way and see the famous Caruth Gates, now a Dallas Landmark. Potter Art Iron Studios are proud to have been Mrs. Caruth’s choice for this commission.

Famous for: LIGHTING FIXTURES, ANTIQUES, FIREPLACE EQUIPMENT, GARDEN ORNAMENTS

BE SURE TO SEE THE WONDERFUL POTTER ART IRON STUDIO EXHIBIT IN THE CENERAL EXHIBITS BUILDING AT THE STATE FAIR.

Iron Man

Mr. Henry’s treasures remain in the turn of a gate, the glow of a lantern

By Elizabeth Woodroof and Chloie Clements

Our neighborhood boasts many generous and talented sons and daughters, past and present. These are the men and women who enrich our lives and the lives of future generations. Some of their legacies are sweeping and widely celebrated; others are more subtle treasures.

One of these civic contributions is in the area of visual art. We tend to either take this for granted or believe we have to go a museum to view it, either here or as far away as New York, Paris or St. Petersburg.

But if we’re really observant, great art is right in front of us – as close as the picturesque railing we’ve walked past a hundred times.

From the seemingly humble beginnings of a blacksmith’s forge, one man has given us a public treasure, and his family continues that legacy today.

Henry Cornwell Potter’s metalwork artistry has made a significant contribution to the unique architecture in the Park Cities.

“Mr. Henry” turned his hobby of making small metal lanterns into a thriving business in 1922. Many homes, churches, parks and public buildings in the Park Cities feature Potter’s lanterns, grills, stair rail, andirons, gates, fences or doors. A few of the places to appreciate Potter’s art are the Inwood Theater, Highland Park Shopping Village, Highland Park United Methodist Church, SMU, Highland Park Town Hall, Versailles Park gazebo and Highland Park Presbyterian Church.

Potter was born in Dallas in 1892. When he was 12 years old, he began making small metal lanterns as a hobby. Two years later, he studied with the German craftsman Alfred Tetze. Beyond this brief tutelage, Potter was largely self-taught in metal work.

After living in Forth Worth for several years, Mr. Henry and his wife moved back to Dallas in 1922 and resumed his metal work hobby in his garage.

His ornate, wrought iron lanterns attracted the attention of friends and neighbors. They placed orders for these lanterns, but the business really took off when Mrs. Potter showed one of the lanterns to a buyer at Sanger Brothers Department Store Downtown. The Sanger representative was impressed and ordered 100.

This small business became Potter Art Iron Studios, later Potter Art Metal Studios, and moved in 1924 to North Henderson. In addition to running his business, Potter taught metalwork at the Dallas Art Institute from 1924-1928.

The business always has been a family affair. Mrs. Potter was promoter and advisor. Henry was principal designer but, as the business grew, an artist was needed to render shop drawings and layouts. Cousin Billy Potter served for 25 years in this capacity. His drawings and illustrations are part of the collection now housed at the Hamon Art Center at SMU.

Mr. Henry’s father and brother worked in the studio during the World War II years, when it was a war plant making aluminum parts for military aircraft. Mr. Henry’s son, Richard Joseph Potter, joined the business after returning from the war. Henry’s daughter, Eva Jane Potter Morgan, joined the business in the design department after graduating from SMU.

Potter Art Metal Studios is still thriving today on North Henderson. Richard Potter continues his grandfather’s legacy by creating new pieces and restoring old ones. The Studios employ artisans who work on forges exactly like blacksmiths of old. From massive chandeliers and doors to communion sets and chalices, craftsmanship is preserved here.

Most of the designs are ancient and timeless – when Richard travels, he sees identical designs all over the world. The texture is forged into the metal, creating an almost life-like object.

A few months ago, Richard noticed that the torchieres, his grandfather’s original designs, in front of the Dallas Police Department were missing pieces and in need of restoration. He received permission from Mayor Kirk to take them down and is now in the process of replacing and repairing them. He calls projects like this his “little gift to the city.”

The father of 10-years-old triplets, Richard hopes that one of them will want to join the family business someday.

Eva Potter Morgan is preserving her father’s heritage by donating 1,600 renderings and illustrations to the Hamon Arts Library, the Jerry Bywaters Special Collections Wing at SMU. Eva wanted the collection to remain in Dallas in an institution that could provide adequate care, as well as making it accessible to researchers. Many of the renderings are in fragile condition but are, themselves, true works of art.

Also included in this collection are invoices documenting the studio’s transactions. Mrs. Morgan is still documenting the location of works manufactured by her father’s studio, and this information will be included in the collection when it is completed. Many people who own these treasures may not be aware of their value; in this way, Eva hopes to educate those with a personal link to the Potter legacy.

If you are interested in the Potter Metal Studio Collection’s drawings, contact Sam Ratcliffe, 214-768-2303, or Ellen Buie Niewyk, 214-768-1859, in Bywaters Special Collections at SMU’s Hamon Arts Library.

 Fall 1999, Park Cities Homes & Heritage

Spring 2000 Home & Heritage


 


 

That’s all he wrought

White Rock Lake: Artist restores ancestor’s work at Big Thicket building

By Elizaveth Langton

Richard Potter works in the past.

To some extent, that’s because the metal artisan’s shop employs centuries-old blacksmithing techniques. But it’s also because pieces crafted 80 years ago keep finding their way into his hands.

On his showroom floor sit two chandeliers and two wall sconces removed from White Rock Lake’s Big Thicket building. Mr. Potter recognized the artist immediately.

“My grandfather made them,” the Lakewood resident said. “Growing up around it for so long, I can usually recognize work that was done here.”

Mr. Potter, a fourth-generation metal artisan, runs Potter Art Metal Studios. His grandfather, Henry, started the business in the 1920s and later hired his own father.

Henry Potter crafted Big Thicket pieces in the late 1930s, about the same time the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed the building at White Rock Lake. Mr. Potter volunteered to restore them for the building’s renovation.

For the Love of the Lake, a volunteer group dedicated to protecting and enhancing White Rock Lake, has been patching the building piece by piece for years, group founder Marci Novak said. But the building was deteriorating faster than the repairs could be made.

The city rents the Big Thicket building, once a concession stand and bicycle rental shop, to the public for weddings and other events.

Ursula Barnhill, a For the Love of the Lake board member, said the group adopted the Big Thicket because it’s a historic building that needs to be saved.

“We have history in our country, and it just seems like it’s always being erased to put in something newer and prettier, at least to some,” she said.

The group found help when the White Rock area’s Home Depot, looking for a community service project, offered to be the Big Thicket’s benefactor. The store provided money, supplies and volunteers. The city agreed to provide labor. Bluebonnet Resource Conservation & Development, a nonprofit organization dedicated to environmentally friendly development in Dallas-Fort Worth communities, pitched in with a grant.

“The project really grew into almost a full restoration of the building,” said Lakewood homebuilder Joe Dann, a For the Love of the Lake volunteer.

City workers ripped out the front walls and replaced the rotting framework. Volunteers, working about two days a week since July, rebuilt walls, re-installed windows and repainted everything.

Once they complete the outside work within the next few weeks, the crew plans to refurbish the interior, a Home Depot vendor has agreed to renovate the kitchen.

The goal is to make the building resemble its original form as much as possible, Mr. Dann said. Workers consult historical photos and, whenever possible, re-use materials. The original covered porch is being re-created.

“It’s a really worthwhile effort to restore this building,” Mr. Dann said. “They are what give the park its history.”

Friday, September 23, 2005     Dallas Morning News


 

Hand-Wrought Metals

Richard Potter, Potter Art Metal Studios Inc.

214-821-1419

www.potterartmetal.com

 

Potter Art Metal Studios Inc. has been designing and hand-forging iron for more than 85 years. His grandfather started the business in his backyard, but when neighbors began to complain about the heavy traffic coming and going, he set up shop on Henderson Avenue, and the company’s been there ever since. Potter learned the trade hands-on in his grandfather’s studio and always knew that he wanted to take over the business one day. “There aren’t schools for this kind of craftsmanship – you have to learn in the studio,” he says. After he earned a degree in business, Potter came back to the studio, taking over the design and operation process. Today, Potter employs two additional designers who help design custom chandeliers, sconces, stair railings, and more, all from steel, brass, copper, and other metals. Almost everything he creates is hand-forged, but he also hand-repousses steel, brass, and copper, and can even do custom metal spinning of brass, copper, and aluminum. Potter recently completed a polished steel fireplace mantel for Trammell S. Crow. Says Potter: “It undulates and flows in so many odd directions; it’s almost alien.”

 

D HOME March/April 2007


 

Andirons to weathervanes: Drawings from the Potter Art metal studio collection

Mildred Hawn Exhibition Gallery Hamon Arts Library Southern Methodist University January 22 through April 3, 2002

The current exhibition in the Hawn Exhibition Gallery, “Andirons to Weathervanes: Drawings the Potter Art Metal Studio Collection,” runs through April 30. The collection was donated to the Jerry Bywaters Special Collections Wing of the Hamon Arts Library in 1992 by SMU alumna Eva Morgan, daughter of Henry Potter, founder of Potter Art Metal Studio. It consists of 1,710 shop drawings and layouts with accompanying invoices for the work from the 1920s to the 1960s. This collection s one of the few remaining that documents the importance of the blacksmith as a worker in metal, producing decorative architectural pieces, primarily with the forge, anvil and hammer. The only other major collection from the same period is that of Samuel Yellin, a metal worker in Philadelphia. This exhibition reflects subject matter typical for many of these designs, including lighting fixtures, balconies, grills, stair rails, andirons, fire screens, weather vanes, fences, gates, and furniture, primarily in iron or bronze. Potter Art Metal Studios worked with many of the architectural firms that shaped some of Dallas’ oldest and best-known residential areas, such as Lakewood, Preston Hollow, and the Park Cities. These firms included those of Fooshee and Cheek, C.D. Hutsell, and David Williams, which had lunched the career of noted Texas architect O’Neill Ford. Decorative ironwork also was fashioned for North Texas residences, churches, businesses, and institutions, including the Dallas Little Theatre, Southern Methodist University, Highland Park Shopping Village, Highland Park United Methodist Church, and Highland Park Presbyterian Church.

Henry Cornwell Potter (1892-1971), started his business career as a salesman of tires, Maxwell automobiles, and Sampson motor trucks in Fort Worth. During World War I, Potter served as a civilian flight instructor and became so intrigued with aviation that he built a biplane. However, such interests were mere offshoots of his first love, that of working with iron and other metals. In 1905, when electric lighting was supplanting gaslights, twelve year-old Henry Potter has started making small metal lanterns. Two years later, he began to work under the tutelage of German craftsman Alfred Tetze, his only formal instruction in metal work. Not until he turned thirty years old, however, did he begin to purser his hobby as a craft. In 1922, Potter set up a workshop in his Dallas garage with a nine-dollar forge and a ten-dollar anvil. The small, ornate wrought iron lanterns that he turned out in his garage, one of which was hung on the front porch of his home, soon attracted the attention of friends and neighbors, who commissioned Potter to make lanterns for them. His “big break” occurred when his wife shoed one of these lanterns to a buyer at Sanger Brothers Department Store in Dallas. Impressed, the buyer placed an order for one hundred lanterns. Mr. Potter protested to his wife that he could not produce that many lanterns. She insisted that he could, and, as their daughter recalls, “urged him to get some help and turned them out as fast as possible.” This commission began the business that in due course became known as Potter Art Iron Studios, later Potter Art Metal Studios.

By 1924, the business’s growth necessitated that Potter move it from his garage. He settled on a forty-foot by one hundred-foot steel shed with a stucco front located at 2927 North Henderson Avenue, a short distance from his home. Potter executed his original designs in this studio shop, assisted by some fifteen craftsmen, most of whom he had trained himself. Potter also taught metal work at the Dallas Art Institute from 1924 to 1928. By the late 1920s, the business had grown to the point that an artist was required to render shop drawings and layouts. At this time, Henry Potter’s first cousin, Billy Potter, joined the firm as resident artist, serving in that capacity for twenty-five years; his works comprise the art holdings of the Potter Art Metal Studio Collection. His work as resident artist was interrupted only during World War II, when the shop was converted to a plant making aluminum parts for military aircraft. Many of his drawings are numbered so as to indicate their year of execution. For example, the “cowboy” wall sconce in the exhibition, numbered 4673-42, was executed in 1942. Unfortunately, many of the drawings exhibit the results of being used and housed in less than ideal conditions for many years and are currently available to researchers only on a restricted basis.

Potter Art Metal Studios was, in great measure, a family business. “Mr. Henry,” as he was known affectionately to friends and colleagues, was the principal designer of the products but, in addition to his cousin, his father, brother, son, and daughter also worked in the studio. Too, his wife’s role in launching the business was indispensable, and she continued throughout her life as an advisor and enthusiastic promoter. Today, “Mr. Henry’s” grandson, Richard Joseph Potter, having inherited his grandfather’s gift of creative work with his hands, is carrying on the family tradition of finely crafted metal work at a location adjacent to the original shop on North Henderson.


 

Historic Metal Art Work Done at Potter Iron Studio

The vanishing art of metal work thrives and expands at Potter Art Iron Studio at 2927 North Henderson.

And in Potter’s modern work-shops veteran metal artisans keep alive the great traditions of the European masters of centuries ago.

Potter’s today is one of three such studios in America. In a world of mass production, Potter’s still stresses the work of individual craftsmanship.

The work of these Twentieth Century craftsmen is done in bronze, aluminum, wrought iron, crystal, magnesium and other nonferrous metals.

The plant adjacent to the shown room. Buyers thus are able to see the manufacture of their purchases.

Because of Potter’s leadership in this specialized field of beauty, many persons from out of town feel their visit to Dallas is not complete until they have visit this sanctuary of metal artistry.

Potter’s is a pioneer firm in Dallas. During its many years, it has built art placed in many Southwestern homes. Its sales today are to all parts of the United States and many foreign countries.

To maintain the traditions of the almost vanished art, the Potters have conducted extensive research.

The trend toward modernism is slowing down in home decorations and traditionalism is returning, President Richard Potter said.

And the studio’s personnel can assist anyone in selecting these traditional pieces.

With the old, Potter has added some Twentieth Century newness. With special equipment, for example, the firm can permanently color aluminum. A popular application of this is found in colored aluminum cups.

Potter makes its own dies, further providing exacting control in its plant to meet the most discriminating tastes.

 Sunday, April 17, 1955  The Dallas Morning News


Forging Ahead

Family-owned Potter Art Metal Studios celebrates 78th years of exquisite smithing

By Jenny Burg

From the access road leading to central Expressway in Dallas, you can easily read the old English-style letters painted across the front of the building. “Watch metal artisan at work”, they beckon. Accept the invitation, and you’ll discover Potter Art Metal Studios, regarded as one of the finest forges in the Southwest.

In 1920, Henry C. Potter received an order for three hand-wrought metal lanterns. He crafted them in the garage of his home near Henderson Avenue, which was then the out-skirts of Dallas. As his business grew, he expanded his operations beyond the workbench into the backyard.

Potter soon had more orders than he and his backyard could handle. No project was too big or too small: He crafted ornamental architectural ironwork, lamp poles for the city, iron furniture, fire screens, lanterns, balconies, candelabras, fire tools and stairwells. Later, he moved his operations into a building along the one-lane road called Central Expressway and began to hire additional blacksmiths.

As the city grew up around him, Potter continued to create his signature metal work. By the 1950s, Potter Art Metal Studios employed more than 150 people in the main shop. When Potter eventually retired, he left the business to his son, who in turn left the business to his son.

Today, the front door of Potter Art Metal Studios is still open, and grandson Richard Potter (pictured) is at the helm. Although the business covers more then 8,000 square feet of space, the original tenet that no project is too big or too small still holds true. On any given day, you can see workers loading massive gothic entrance gates into trucks bound for Highland Park, recasting street lamps for Fort Worth’s Trimble High School or spot welding a fire poker handle for a waiting customer. Occasionally, someone will come in requesting a repair on a piece made 60 to 70 years ago by founder Henry C. Potter for beautiful homes and businesses throughout Dallas, Fort Worth and around the country. Richard honors these requests – fulfillment of guarantees that span several lifetimes.

The front door of Potter Art Metal Studios opens into the showroom, where intricate candelabras and candle stands command attention, and lanterns and chandeliers sit next to wrought-iron doors and delicate mesh fire screens. Richard and his assistant, Deborah Nesbit, are always on hand to answer questions and help clients design unique pieces. For guidance, there is an archive filled with photographs and drawings that reflect 78 years’ worth of ideas.

Behind the showroom lies the forge, where hammers clang and sparks fly. Currently, 17 blacksmiths and fabricators create pieces from steel, iron, copper, brass and bronze. On weekends, Richard Potter often brings his children, 9-years-old triplets, to the studio with him. Careful to stay clear of danger, all three bang hammers and play blacksmith. Preparing, perhaps, to become the fourth generation at the forge.

January 1999, Home Living

 


 

SOUTHERN

METHODIST

UNIVERSITY

Bywaters Special Collections                                                       May 10, 2002

Mr. Richard Potter

Potter Art Metal Studios

4500 North Central Expressway

Dallas, Texas 75206

Dear Richard:

This is to confirm the return of the items listed below that you generously lent to us for the Hawn Gallery’s recently concluded exhibition of drawings and other materials concerning the Potter Collection here at SMU. Your aunt, Eva Morgan, has requested that I return to you the fireplace poker that she lent, so that is listed below as well. Also enclosed are brochures from the exhibition; please let us know if you need more.

The exhibition was very well received and fostered a greater awareness of your grandfather’s skill and legacy. For example, a group of volunteers from the Dallas Museum of Art toured the gallery four weeks ago and came away mightily impressed. Ellen and I both enjoyed planning, curating, and installing the exhibition and getting to meet your family at the reception. We are very pleased with the revived interest in your grandfather’s work over the past few years and, of course, with the great strides that you have made concurrently with this latest incarnation of Potter Art Metal Studios.

Yours,

Sam Ratcliffe

Head, Buwaters Special Collections

Enclosures

Cc: Eva Potter Morgan

Items loaned for use in the exhibition,

“Andirons to Weathervanes:

Drawings from the Potter Art Metal Studio Collection”

Wall sconce for home designed by Dallas architect C.D. Hutsell

Newell post from home of Henry Potter

Fireplace decoration (hunting scene)

Two copper candlestick holders

Fireplace poker (lent originally by Eva Potter Morgan)

Hamon Arts Library

Meadows School of the Arts

PO
Box 750356 Dallas TX 75275-0356

214-768-2303 or 214-768-1859  Fax 214-768-1800


 

8 February 2000

Richard J. Potter

4500 N. Central Expressway

Dallas, Texas 75206

Dear Richard: 

Congratulations! We are pleased to confirm that you have been selected by Preservation Dallas to receive the Craft Award. Out of the many fine candidates nominated, it was felt by the selection committee that your efforts were an exemplary contribution to the preservation of the historic places of our community.

We hope that you will be able to join us at the Preservation Awards Dinner on 25 February, 7:00 p.m. at the Lakewood Theatre. This will be a festive event, complete with barbeque and jazz, and is intended to honor this year’s Award Winners in style.

An invitation is being sent to you under separate cover.

Again, congratulations, and thank you for the commitment you have so consistently demonstrated for the preservation of Dallas’ heritage. Should you have any questions about this award, or the Preservation Awards Dinner, please call Cindy Wilson at Preservation Dallas at (214) 821-3290

Sincerely,

Robert L. Meckfessel, AIA

Chair, Preservation Awards Connittee

PRESERVATION DALLAS 2922 SWISS AVENUE    DALLAS, TEXAS 75204-5928

214.821.3290 TELEPHONE   214.821.3573                www.preservationdallas.org


 

LIGHT TOUCH

Artist continues grandfather’s legacy by restoring lanterns at White Rock Lake

By David Flick 

Richard Potter first saw the lanterns at the original main entrance to White Rock Lake by leaning over the side of an old stone bridge.

Even upside down, he could identify them as his grandfather’s work.

“We have our own style and look,” said Mr. Potter, 49, who now owns his grandfather’s metal shop, Potter Art Metal Studios. “The spires at the top, the scroll at the corners ending in a curl, the hammered textures in the panel were all things he liked to do.”

The lanterns are now in Mr. Potter’s shop along North Central Expressway, where they are being refurbished at his expense. They will be returned to the side of the stone bridge off Garland Road this summer.

“I contacted For the Love of the Lake [a preservationist group] and told them, ‘You have the Parks Department take them down and bring them to the shop and I’ll fix them up,’ and they did,” Mr. Potter said.

The city employees also arrived with a surprise. “When they got here, they said, ‘Oh, by the way, you know there were two more of them that are now missing,’ “Mr. Potter said. “So, I’m going to make two replacements.”

Steve Tompkins, president of For the Love of the Lake, estimates that the bridge and lanterns were installed in the mid-1930s as part of a Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps project.

Mr. Tompkins said he was delighted with Mr. Potter’s offer and took it to city officials, who quickly accepted.

Naturally, we took him up on it because we don’t have the money to refurbish something like that ourselves,” said Sandra Hicks, a Dallas Park and Recreation Department manager.

Mr. Potter said has no record of the original lanterns; early company records run from incomplete to nonexistent.

Henry C. Potter began the business in the back yard of his home on Miller Avenue in Old East Dallas about 1920. The elder Mr. Potter moved two blocks to the company’s current location in 1924. Over time, he employed his own father, his son and his grandson, Richard, who first began working at age 11.

Though Henry Potter’s most famous commission, the gates to the Caruth estate, have been torn down, his work may still be seen at the De-Golyer Mansion at the Dallas Arboretum, in Highland Park Village and in homes of the affluent throughout the region.

His grandson is also leaving a mark on the city.

About five years ago, when Richard Potter went to Dallas municipal court to pay a parking ticket, he noticed the globe lights – which had been neglected and vandalized -  outside the Dallas Police Department headquarters on Harwood Street.

“But I thought, these are bronze. If they were fixed up, they’d be beautiful,” he said.

He called the city and offered to renovate them at his own expense, but the act of generosity turned out to be more difficult to execute than he had thought.

”One department would refer me to another department and eventually they sent me back to the place where I had started out,” he said.

Mr. Potter, who lived near Mayor Ron Kirk, called on his neighbor and asked for help. The red tape was cut, and the refurbished globe lights were installed in the winter of 2000.

The White Rock lanterns came to his attention by accident, when his wife, Debbie, saw them while bicycling.

The 16-inch-high lanterns were heavily caked with rust, their electric lights removed, their glass broken out. When the lanterns are returned to the bridge this summer, Mr. Potter said, he hopes they contribute to the restoration of the lake and to the beautification of the city.

“I get plenty of business in Dallas,” he said, “and it seemed only right to give something back.”

Dallas Morning News Friday, April 6, 2001


 

The potter Legacy/ The White Rock Lake Foundation and For The Love Of The Lake are two neighborhood organizations that volunteer their time to support the Lake. Each group organizes events, whether to raise funds to support the White Rock Lake Master Plan or to gather volunteers on a Saturday morning to clean the Lake’s shores. Because of their presence, others know where to turn when they want to support the Lake.

It was the first call Richard Potter made.

On an afternoon ride along Garland Road, Potter pulled into the now-closed original entrance of White Rock Lake; he noticed two lanterns on the stone entrance. After a quick look, he immediately recognized the handiwork – the twists, the pointed spires, the hammered iron texture, all were the handcrafted details of his grandfather, Henry Potter.

So Potter’s grandson, who is carrying on the family’s legacy at Potter Art Metal Studios, contacted For The Love Of The Lake and asked if the group could run a proposal by the Parks and Recreation Department.

Potter wanted to volunteer his time to refurbish the two lanterns his grandfather created for the entrance in the 1930s.

“I think it’s cool to refurbish my grandfather’s lanterns … metalwork is a lost art,” Potter says.

After speaking to officials with the Park and Recreation department, Potter discovered that the entrance originally had four lanterns. He began work on the surviving two last summer, refinishing the exteriors, replacing the glass, and paying attention to every detail his grandfather crafted. 

Once the original lanterns are completed, he plans to make two identical ones to replace the missing pair. Every aspect of the work will be completed by hand, and all four lanterns will be mounted at the entrance of White Rock Lake off of Garland Road, a perfect complement to the stone entryway and wood and stone bridge now being restored to its 1930s appearance though other efforts spearheaded by neighborhood volunteer Steve Tompkins.

April 2001, Lakewood/East Dallas Advocate


METAL MAVENS

Artisan-made metalwork is an integral element of many homes in the Southwest. Dallas-based Potter Art Metal Studios can meet most requests, as it works with everything from iron, brass and copper to bronze, aluminum and pewter. Designer Izabela Wojcik says she can build almost anything from metal, including gazebos, lanterns, fencing, stair rails, sconces, chandeliers and tables.

Potter Art, which specializes in light fixtures, created this Gothic-style exterior ceiling fan and chandelier in solid brass and copper to serve as a dramatic focal point for a gazebo. The company relocated to a larger showroom at 4827 Memphis St. earlier this spring. To learn more about what it has to offer, stop by the studio, go online to potterartmetal.com, or call (214) 821-1419