David Shaner papers, 1937-2007, bulk 1968-1998

A Finding Aid to the David Shaner Papers, 1937-2007, bulk 1968-1998, in the Archives of American Art, by Erin Kinhart

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Table of Contents:

Biographical Information

David Shaner (1934-2002) was a ceramist in Bigfork, Montana.

Shaner was born in Pottstown, Pennsylvania in 1934. He attended Kutztown State Teachers College and in 1957 entered the Master of Fine Arts program at Alfred University. After earning his MFA, he taught ceramics at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. In 1962 he and his wife Ann permanently relocated to Montana. Shaner served as director of the Archie Bray Foundation in Helena, Montana from 1964-1970. He remained a prolific potter and respected teacher throughout his life. Shaner was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 1995 and died in 2002.

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Overview of the Collection

Scope and Contents

The papers of ceramicist David Shaner measure 2.8 linear feet and date from 1937-2007, with the bulk of the material from 1968-1998. Shaner's career as a ceramicist in Big Fork, Montana, is documented through scattered correspondence, subject files, studio working files, writings and notes by Shaner and others, exhibition catalogs and other printed material, and photographs.

Scattered correspondence includes letters, cards, and postcards. Correspondence is primarily with friends and colleagues, but also includes a few letters from galleries and art organizations. Subject files document Shaner's activities as a professional ceramicist. The majority of the files are for art galleries, but also found are files are for studio equipment, supply companies, and professional organizations. Files may include correspondence, agreements, invoices, price lists, receipts, and press releases.

Shaner's studio working files consist of glaze formulas, his kiln log notebook, plans, and kiln documentation. Also found are his studio notes, lists, formulas, manuals and guides for various ceramic processes and tools. A series of writings and notes consist of notes by Shaner, including notes for his artist's statement, as well as draft manuscripts, lectures, and essays by others on the topic of ceramics.

Printed material includes articles documenting David Shaner's career, exhibition announcements and catalogs for exhibits of Shaner's work, and various publications about ceramics. A small number of photographs found within this collection depict kilns and kiln building events, unidentified artists and studio spaces, and artwork. Included is one photograph of David Shaner.

Arrangement and Series Description

The collection is arranged as 6 series:

Subjects and Names

This collection is indexed in the online catalog of the Archives of American Art under the following terms:


  • Art galleries, Commercial
  • Artists' studios--Photographs
  • Ceramicists--Montana
  • Ceramics.--Equipment and supplies
  • Glazes--Formulae
  • Pottery--Technique

Types of Materials:

  • Drafts (documents)
  • Essays
  • Lectures
  • Manuscripts
  • Notebooks
  • Notes
  • Photographs


The David Shaner papers were donated in 2010 by Ann Shaner, David Shaner's widow.

Separated and Related Materials

Also found at the Archives of American Art is an oral history interview with David Shaner, conducted by Gerald Williams on June 17, 2001.

How the Collection was Processed

The collection was processed by Erin Kinhart in 2011.

How to Use the Collection

Restrictions on Use

Use of original papers requires an appointment.

Ownership & Literary Rights

The David Shaner papers are owned by the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution. Literary rights as possessed by the donor have been dedicated to public use for research, study, and scholarship. The collection is subject to all copyright laws.

How to Cite this Collection

David Shaner papers, 1937-2007, bulk 1968-1998. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.

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Detailed Description and Container Inventory

Series 1: Correspondence, circa 1978-1999
(Box 1; 3 folders)

This series contains a small amount of David Shaner's correspondence, including letters, cards, and postcards. Correspondence is primarily with friends and colleagues, but also includes a few letters from galleries and art organizations. Researchers should note that additional correspondence can be found within Series 2: Subject Files.

Correspondence is arranged chronologically.

Box Folder
1 1 Correspondence, 1978-1986
1 2 Correspondence, 1990-1999
1 3 Correspondence, undated

Series 2: Subject Files, 1961-1998
(Box 1; 0.6 linear feet)

This series contains subject files maintained by David Shaner to document his activities as a professional ceramicist. The majority of the files are for art galleries where Shaner showed his work. Other files are for studio supplies and equipment, such as burners, cartons, and freight, and supply companies, as well as professional organizations such as NCECA (National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts). Files may include correspondence, loan forms and other agreements, invoices, price lists, receipts, press releases, order forms, and miscellaneous documentation.

Subject Files are arranged alphabetically.

Box Folder
1 4 Anagama, circa 1982-1985
1 5 Anne Reed Gallery, 1994-1995
1 6 Artifacts [Gallery], 1986-1991
1 7 Artworks Gallery, 1994-1995
1 8 Burners, 1965-1994
1 9 Canecraft-Treenery, 1988-1996
1 10 Cartons (Packaging), 1991-1994
1 11 The Clay Place, 1994-1996
1 12 Coleman Clay Studio and Gallery, circa 1995-1997
1 13 Contemporary Crafts Gallery, 1979-1990
1 14 Corks, 1969-1976
1 15 E. J. Bartells Co., 1970-1983
1 16 Ferrin Gallery, 1989-1993
1 17 Flowers, circa 1990-1994
1 18 Foote Mineral Company, 1966-1973
1 19 Foster/White Gallery, 1991-1998
1 20 Frame Design & Sunbird Gallery, 1991-1998
1 21 Freight, circa 1970-1985
1 22 Gallery Eight, 1989-1997
1 23 Garth Clark Gallery, 1988-1989
1 24 Helen Drutt Gallery, circa 1984-1989
1 25 Hibberd McGrath Gallery, 1988-1996
1 26 Holter Museum of Art, 1995-1997
1 27 Images Friedman Gallery, 1995-1996
1 28 International Minerals and Chemical Corp., 1964-1973
1 29 Joanne Rapp Gallery: The Hand and the Spirit, 1990-1998
1 30 Kentucky-Tennessee Clay Co., 1969-1970
1 31 Lawrence Gallery, 1985-1990
1 32 Mariposa Gallery, 1984-1995
1 33 Martha Schneider Gallery, 1989-1993
1 34 Maveety Gallery, 1990-1997
1 35 Miller Gallery, 1997
1 36 National Lead Company, 1969-1970
1 37 NCECA, 1961-1997
1 38 Northwest Craft Center and Gallery, 1983-1984
1 39 Pewabic Pottery, 1987-1988
1 40 Pfizer, Inc., circa 1964-1975
1 41 Pot Sales, 1987, 1992-1994
1 42 Potter's Wheel Gallery, 1992-1996
1 43 S. Paul Ward, Inc., 1972-1976
1 44 Salem Art Association, 1992-1994
1 45 Supplies, 1969-1990
1 46 Sutton West Gallery, 1994-1995
1 47 Sylvia Ullman American Crafts, 1990-1996
1 48 Wetsman Collection, 1996-1998
1 49 Whitefish Gallery, 1994-1997

Series 3: Studio Working Files, circa 1951-1990s
(Boxes 1-2; 8 folders)

This series contains reference materials, plans, and notes which David Shaner used in his ceramics studio. Included are glaze formulas, Shaner's kiln log notebook, kiln plans drafted by Shaner and others, and guides to kiln construction and use. Also found are many manuals and guides for using tools, clay, firing, and other related topics. This series also includes Shaner's own handwritten notes, lists, and formulas for his work.

Box Folder
1 50-51 Glaze Information, circa 1969-1970s
(2 folders)
1 52 Kiln Log, 1972-circa 1991
1 53 Kiln Documentation, circa 1978-1991
1 54 Kiln Plans, 1968-1980
1 55 Manuals and Reference Guides, circa 1970s-1990s
Box Folder
2 1 Manuals and Reference Guides, circa 1951-1987
2 2 Miscellaneous Notes, Lists, and Reference Materials, circa 1960s-1990s

Series 4: Writings and Notes, 1954-circa 1993
(Box 2; 6 folders)

This series contains writings and notes by David Shaner and others. Included are two folders of notes by Shaner including notes for his artist's statement, thoughts on ceramics, and inspirational quotations by others, which he wrote down on scraps of paper. Also found are draft manuscripts by Ken Hendry and Jim Robertson, as well as typescripts of essays and lectures on ceramics written by various authors.

Box Folder
2 3-4 Notes, circa 1970s-1990s
(2 folders)
2 5-6 Ken Hendry, "Pottery and the Pursuit of Meaning," circa 1980s
(2 folders)
2 7 Jim Robertson, "Body Building for Potters," 1988
2 8 Various Authors, Writings and Lectures about Ceramics, 1954-circa 1993

Series 5: Printed Material, 1937-2007
(Boxes 2-4; 1.4 linear feet)

This series contains printed material such as articles from magazines, journals, and news papers documenting David Shaner's career, as well as exhibition announcements and catalogs for exhibits of Shaner's work and the work of other ceramicists. Also found are books, magazines, reports, and journals about ceramics, workshop brochures, and various supply order forms. A file of articles on various subjects and a file of reference images were compiled by Shaner.

Folders are arranged alphabetically by type of publication.

Box Folder
2 9 Articles about David Shaner, 1960-2005
2 10 Articles about Various Subjects, circa 1960s-1990s
2 11 Book, Clay/Glass: A Guide to Clay and Glass Artists of Northern California, 1981
2 12 Book, Papers by Speakers at the Gippsland National Woodfire Conference, 1986
2 13 Book, Syllabus for Advanced Ceramics, 1972
2 14-16 Exhibition Announcements, circa 1973-2007
(3 folders)
2 17-25 Exhibition Catalogs, 1960-1993
(9 folders)
Box Folder
3 1-3 Exhibition Catalogs, 1994-2005, undated
(3 folders)
3 4 Journal, The Studio Potter, 1999, 2002
3 5-8 Magazines, 1937, 1957, 1972-1983
(4 folders)
Box Folder
4 1 Magazines, 1987, 1990
4 2-4 NCECA Publications, 1988-2006
(3 folders)
4 5 Published Essays by Soetsu Yanagi, 1952, 1958
4 6 Reference Images, circa 1960s-1990s
4 7 Reports, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, 1958, 1962
4 8 Sales Brochure and Order Forms, circa 1970s-1990s
4 9 Workshop Brochures, circa 1989-1995
4 10 Miscellaneous Printed Material, 1949-circa 1990s

Series 6: Photographs, 1968-1990s
(Box 4; 4 folders)

This series contains a small number of photographs and slides of an unidentified studio, kilns, and details of kiln construction. Also found are photographs identified as being from Anagama kiln firing events, depicting the kiln construction, and including one photograph of David Shaner. Miscellaneous photographs depict artwork and an unidentified person working in a studio.

Box Folder
4 11 Photographs of Studio and Kilns, 1968, circa 1970s
4 12 Photographs of Anagama Events, circa 1980s
4 13 Miscellaneous Photographs, circa 1980s-1990s
4 14 Slides, undated