- Collectible Ceramics designed and handcrafted in Maine USA since 1952

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A Community Vision

Vintage 1950’s decanters designed in form and glaze by Weston Neil Andersen 

This blog post grew out of a response to having my comment deleted in an economic development discussion in my local news paper. The Boothbay Peninsula is the grayest town in the grayest county in the grayest state in Maine. I believe my vision can have a transformative effect on the problems of my home town, but there has been no forum wherein one can introduce such a vision, and so this blog post expanded beyond merely posting the comment deleted by the Boothbay Register. I replaced the comment in the Boothbay Register, with one promoting my own economic development blog, Preserving the American Political Philosophy, where my deleted comment can be read, Then I decided to repost the blog post here.

The Comment presented further down, has been deleted twice from the Boothbay Register Discussion about the JECD, It is my view of the JECD that it is just an arm of Maine central management of our economy which operates in the “high value industry” paradigm, which Senator Rubio discusses in his report,  American Investment in the 21st Century. I was already aware that some industries are targeted and subsidized by central management and other industries devalued from my research on the Maine economic development statutes, incrementally put into place since the Longley administration

Go to Report

In my opinion it would be good thing for the Boothbay Peninsula if there were a place for the small entrepreneurial community to connect but currently I have not found that to be so. Therefore, I introduced my own economic development vision to the larger community in this post (below), which was deleted twice by the Boothbay Register by being marked as spam in Disqus.

Go to Article

I started this blog around 2007 because I observed an absence in the Maine media of alternative voices to central management.  Central management of Maine’s economy was deemed into existence by Governor Longley’s unelected board, in the 1970’s. Maine’s fastest growing sector was then small businesses employing up to 100 people, and Maine was leading the nation in that sector. The excuse for creating a centrally managed economy was that small business have a much harder time finding capital that larger ones and so the Maine government would come to their aid. Instead the small businesses have been marginalized or used to subsidize “high value industry” in the model of China, which Rubio presents in his report, Made in China 2005 and the Future of American Business.

Go to Report

As Senator Rubio reports, the profit motivation has become so extreme in macro economy economics that American businesses are scaling back investments in growing and building businesses, including investing in research, to pursue wealth as pure wealth in the form of financial assets. This is a problem in contemporary American culture. The designer-craftsmen industry is value centered on the work process, a value which has gone missing in the macro-economy system based on the “low-value-high value industry paradigm, with value treated solely as a monetary measure. The designer-craftsmen industry can play a significant role in bringing back the value of the work process in American and global culture The low-value-high value industry paradigm is a global phenomenon. which marginalizes every value except profit where ever it is prioritized.

Andersen Design is a brand, uniquely situated, because of our history, to represent the intrinsic value of the work process in the same way that the Trump brand represents the wealth culture.

One of a Kind Vintage Pitcher, designed and hand crafted by Weston Neil Andersen in the late forties or early fifties as part of his concept for the original line of functional forms which launched Andersen Design, then known as Ceramics by Andersen. This pitcher and other rare vintage Andersen objects are available for sale HERE

Recognizing that we now live in a wealth redistribution economy, I approached a New York Arts fiscal sponsor for fiscal sponsorship of our production. Fiscal sponsorship allows an organization which does not have non-profit status to apply for grants from foundations and other non-profit funding, but does not make the organization tax exempt. Translating that into the local dialogue, fiscal sponsorship would allow Andersen Design to fund a fiscally sponsored project with grants but it would not be property tax exempt, and so this would be a plus for the local economy in all ways.

It was the word “production, used on our application, which sent the board into a tizzy. The use of the word, “production”, was specifically stated as the reason we were rejected. The board suggested that Andersen Design change its historical mission and apply again as a school or a museum. As a school we would be prohibited from teaching what we know and love or selling any of the student work as other local non-profits are known to do. Since selling the student work would help to support the school, it touches on the real reason our application was rejected. The application asked for figures, which I took from our business plan, based on my Dad’s parameters of operations, a system of ratios. I used an amount that would fund our business at the scale appropriate for a company with over 200 market proven designs in its inventory. The figures projected that if we started with an operating grant scaled to the size of our assets, we would make most of it back in the first year of operations.

When I re-read the application instructions, I realized my mistake. The guidelines instruct that applications showing no profit or a loss are preferred. I reapplied as a Museum showing a significant loss in the figures. At that point the museum was a Museum of Andersen Design, only, a company which grew itself from the roots up in the free enterprise economy, using production as its method of growth. The application as a Museum of Andersen Design was readily accepted. Soon afterwards, I reconfigured the concept as the Andersen Designer Museum of American Designer Craftsmen. When I approached the JECD looking for support, Wendy Wolf told me that the JECD can’t do anything to help individual businesses, which she was actively doing in the form of supporting the Botanical Gardens and the dining and entertainment industries in Boothbay Harbor.

The Museum is still a viable concept but it needs local support, which has not materialized.(inquiries welcome). The Museum combined with the network of small independently owned slip casting studios, would create a viable cultural focus capable of drawing new younger entrepreneurial residents and visitors and shoppers of all ages to the Peninsula. The Andersen Design brand and extensive product line are assets with a potential to bring new creative work opportunities to the area. The vision I have in my mind is a viable business incubator, but not in a sector designated as having the “high value” pursued by central management. However I submit that the “low-value, high value industrial paradigm is seriously flawed.

At first I did not know what to make of it when my blog post “What Difference A Curve Makes” was shared on Facebook by a college professor at an art school in Indonesia. In terms of globalism I might be worried that our designs will be copied and reproduced in low cost labor markets. However my post text is about the humanistic value of the work process as found in the art of making ceramics. This is a value which is important everywhere. The old economic paradigms which locates high value industries in developed nations and low valued industries in emerging nations is rapidly evolving. It would be much better for society if the value of all work, as a process which enriches life, is raised. I have seen some products sold as “authentic’ crafts from emerging nations which are souless commercial products. People making crafts everywhere should be engaged in a highly valued work process. Andersen Design established that this need not be limited solely to the high end of the art market. Andersen Design established production as an artform in 1952, when its purpose was stated to be to “create a hand crafted product affordable to the middle classes”. The collectors of Andersen took to referring to the product produced in our “factory” as “art”.

Andersen Design is a unique American company which took the road less travelled when we did not move our production overseas and yet we were able to compete successfully in a market filled with products produced in low cost global labor markets. Our line is classic, with marketability which has remained consistent through decades and has both national and international appeal.

DELETED COMMENT from Boothbay Register discussion: Towns discuss JEDC, collaboration
 Extension of shoulder season with Boothbay Lights benefited Boothbay Harbor dining, entertainment and bed and breakfast industry. There was no benefit for Boothbay although Boothbay also funded it. Well- not quite none, it also served as an advertising campaign for the super-funded Botanical Gardens.

Broadband has a lot of issues with G5 technology, which I won’t get into here and
say instead that no one has ever said why we need this. I am not saying that we
don’t but the whole idea seems to be resting on an assumption that we do need
it, which has never been articulated, to my knowledge. Since I once was trying
to get some information out of Wendy Wolf and was directed to go look it up myself
on the town website, I discovered that the plans for broadband were in place at
the town office, long before the publicly organized discussions about it ever occurred.
I would like a clear answer on why we need it and if there has been serious
consideration of the environmental issues with G5 technology and assurance the
technology, if installed, will not be made in China.
Housing is being conceived as an upstairs downstairs community with the “workers”
and middle income people living in modular housing, and ordinances in place to
restrict businesses in the home. Home businesses are fundamental to
designer-crafts persons and or artists, be they in maritime industries,
farmers, or other. I was recently told by a former member of the planning board
that “You can have a gallery in your home in Boothbay, but you can’t show anyone
else’s work and you can’t hire anyone to make your work” In other words you can’t
grow. I am not sure that he was up to date on “you can have a gallery in your
home”, pursuant to recent articles in this newspaper. Since we have both a
housing shortage and an age issue, maybe we should be rethinking the
regulations suppressing independent business in the home?
East side zoning changes and expansion of public access, footbridge work are
specific to Boothbay Harbor.
Historic buildings are being bulldozed over to make room for the new developer’s.
The former home of Andersen Design was one of the oldest buildings in East Boothbay,
is an iconic example. Andersen Design was one of the first businesses in the home
on the Boothbay Peninsula, first situated in a wooden barn built with pegs in
the 1800’s which was also bulldozed over after we left. The economic development
leaders of our community need to read some of the history books of this region such
as the Jim Harnedy series which features Andersen Design. The help we have received
from this community is phenomenal, but all has come from outside of our
community leaders.

“Sites inventory” is unexplained. Andersen Design needs a site for a training capacity I have long had a vision of producing our line of over two hundred classic and market proved ceramic slip-cast designs in a network of small independently owned slip-casting studios. I do not know of any other American company which has these kinds of assets to pull off such a vision. Andersen Design is unique in that capacity in America and the world. My father was an economic development thinker before that term was popular, studying industrial design at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. Industrial Design is economic development. My original vision was to locate studios in low income, high unemployment areas, but I look at my hometown with all its problems and I see another vision for how such a designer craftsmen network could impact every single one of the problems this town faces. But I can’t do it alone. It takes a village. However, in my experience, the JECD is not an economic development resource available equally to all, but run as a top down organization, which has no understanding of growing anything from the roots up.

What Difference A Curve Makes

Large Salad Bowl Form by Weston Neil Andersen: 10 inches diameter copyright Andersen Design 1970
Prototype of Form before lip was adjusted

The Large Salad Bowl with the two tones of blue leaves has been around for a long time. All the while I thought it was a beautiful decoration done on a bowl which had warped in the casting.

Recently. when photographing the bowls
together, I realized I was wrong. The reason I thought the bowl was warped was
because of what appeared to be a mis-shaped curve of the rim. I took it to be
that the bowl had been trimmed when it was too wet and had released and curved
inward. On closer examination, I realized it was not a casting error. The bowl was
cast from a mold with a higher curve to the rim.
lip comparison

Observed side by side
with another bowl it is obvious that there is no warping in the globe of the
bowl. The blue flower bowl, shown from the back side, is the one on the right
in the picture. Both bowls have perfectly formed globes. It is only the curve
of the rim line which is different. This revelation identifies the blue leafed
tree bowl as an original prototype which was cast and found unsatisfactory and
so the form design was reworked, reshaping the curve of the cut-out lip.

The correct curve of the lip

This makes the bowl a very rare one of a kind casting of a prototype in the works. The bowl has some additional defects in an indented mold line, which is visible in the photo below and some small irregularities in the glaze application. While the curve of the lip is not right for the form of the bowl, this is only evident when looking down on it, Viewed from the front at a common placement, the curve of the lip is attractive and adds more room for the decorative tree, painted by Brenda, to grow. In the photo at the top of the page the form of the blue leaf bowl is not noticeably different from the other two and the tree is vibrant and vivacious.

The Working prototype is signed with capitalized letters spelling ANDERSEN, written in sgrafitto 

The bowl to the left is a vintage large salad bowl, ten inches in
diameter The bowl
is decorated with artistry characteristic of Brenda’s work.

The execution of the form was problematic.
The bowl was cast too thick and should have been tossed back into the slip tank
to be reprocessed, but sometimes, in a moment of weakness, the slip-caster
can’t bring themselves to do that and instead tries to fix it by thinning the
curved lip of the bowl, causing a visible ridge along the rim as the thinned
lip meets the heavy cast of the body. The bowl cracked during firing but the
crack does not go all the way through the bowl and it holds liquid.

The decoration of the bowl is perfectly
executed in the first instant without any re-dos or touch ups giving the hand
execution of the pattern an elegant and natural beauty expressing the inner
confidence of the artist. The leaves have a crisp outline which requires a
perfectly balanced white glaze and a perfectly adjusted decorating color. The
former is done by the glaze maker and the latter is in the hands of the
decorator, who must pay attention daily to the balance of the decorating
colors. A talented decorator will develop an intuitive awareness through
practice, but it is always about the relationship between the glaze and the
decorating color.

All this goes as an example to slip-casters as to why the cast which is too think should be thrown out, to give a fair chance that a masterful decorative execution will be matched with a perfectly cast form. The whole is in the teamwork.

This bowl is signed on the bottom with a scripted AD, indicating that it was probably a production work rather than a prototype. This is not certain as I am not certain that the distinction between the signing of a prototype versus the signing of a production work was paid a lot of attention, but it should be in the future.

The bowl is shown in the picture below with another bowl, also decorated by Brenda. The second bowl is a better cast. The decoration is charming with exuberance, despite the leaves not being as crisp as the leaves are in this bowl. 

The bowl on the right is cast to a perfect thinness. There is room for it to go even thinner but it is fine at this thickness and adds strength against breakage without making the bowl heavy in weight.

This bowl is decorated by Brenda. It is signed on the bottom in an unusual way. with the name ANDERSEN DESIGN written out in capital letters. This suggests that it might have been created during the prototype process, but that is not certain.

Patterns in Stoneware Penguins and Trees

In my last post I began a discussion about how one identifies the author of a piece, pointing out the importance of the signature but that the signature can also be misleading. The true signature is in the hand of the artist which is as unique as handwriting. This One of a Kind Vintage Emperor Penguin was created when the decoration for the production design was under development. The overall uniformity of the pattern is one of the keys to identifying that the penguin is decorated by Weston and not by Brenda.


Weston’s hand is patient, disciplined and rhythmic. The pattern is systematic but not mechanically uniform. Weston takes a philosopher’s approach to pattern. The components of the pattern are integral to an inseparable expression of wholeness. The state of mind is at one with the beingness of existence. Weston patientently executes the teardrops in an organically flowing rhythm on the backside of the Emperor Penguin. A similar approach to pattern is shown in the vase, by Weston, to the left. The parts are irregular dabs in an organically organized formation which produces an overall effect which appears deceptively as regularity, like life

Brenda’s approach to pattern is as a narrative, While Weston’s approach might be compared to that of the drummer, Brenda is the dancer who lays a linear story line over the background of the beat, one might say, a beatnik pattern maker, as the artists culture was called in her day.

Brenda is likely the creator of the tree pattern. Trees all tell a story of life, responsive to the rain, wind, sun, moon and stars, causing their branches to reach out in a way unique to each individual tree. The philosopher focuses on beingness while the narrator tells the events of an individual journey through time

My own childhood artwork can be identified by the wreaths I placed around the  characters. This is how I envisioned the world in my first philosophical conceptualization, as I sat, at the age of five, in the midst of an unmowed grassy field, most likely the first summer that we lived in Maine. I thought about myself as a circle, and my family as a larger circle, and the other people in the world as an even a larger circle.The whole world was the largest circle but it could blow itself up. That didn’t make sense and ruined the whole concept. I had going in my head.

If the figure in the center looks dismayed, that is why. That’s my generation, the first generation born into a world which could blow itself up. We had to practice hiding under our desks but we knew it was much worse than that. Other generations have since been born into the same world but the way of dealing with it changed and children in sub primary class no longer have to practice hiding under desks preparing for an atomic bomb attack. Now they have to prepare for other kinds of attacks coming from their most immediate circle,

My narration went off pattern, when I leaped from the immediate to the far, The atom, or that non-thing that we call atoms, takes a quantum leap when it goes from one orbit to the next. It doesn’t happen in conventionalized time and space. Within the nucleus within the nucleus within the nucleus, there is only consciousness.

That takes us deep into the process of creation, the essence of what makes us human. The process of creating a pattern is a process of consciousness, Creating a pattern is a state of being like chopping wood and carrying water and dancing around the room to the beat because there is no one to stop you from doing so in your own studio, and why small studios are in the Andersen Design master plan.

The eyes of the Emperor Penguin repeat the tear drops in stark black and white. Gray claws grip the base like a pronouncement of creaturehood. The sculpture has the mildly rough surface of a freshly sculpted piece cast in its first mold and the beat goes on.

Original Vintage Prototype Stein in Blue and White Stripes by Weston Neil Andersen

The Blue and white stein is
an Andersen classic. This stein is probably the original prototype. It is
signed on the bottom with a hand scripted “Andersen”, painted in blue
decorating color against a background circle glazed in white.

It is very rare to find the
signature on glazed background indicating that the work was created early on, before
the glazed background was dropped for production reasons. 

Before Weston designed the prototypes for individual pieces, he made many
sketches of a complete line of functional forms on any piece of paper handy,
including napkins from road side diners, This is likely the original prototype
of the stein because he wasn’t thinking about brand identity when he signed it
in simple script with his last name.

By the time Dad did the second
stein, shown with it in some pictures, the idea of a brand identity, complete
with a logo, began to evolve as Weston started to sign his work with “A”
instead of “Andersen” The way the signature on this stein is written in fluid
decorating color, makes it difficult to determine if the spelling is “Anderson”
or “Andersen”, but I interpret it to be “Anderson”. The changing of the
spelling from the Swedish spelling to the Danish spelling indicates the thought
process at work in developing a brand identity. Weston’s ancestors are Danish.
The decision to use the ancestral spelling of his last name is an integral
acknowledgement of who he is and how he came to be here in the grander scope of
human history.

The stein is shown with second stein made around the same time. The second
stein is signed with an “A’ on an unglazed background. In the early fifties
Andersen Design was called Ceramics by Anderson.

The year was actually 1952
The original prototype stein is perfect in form, representing the way that Weston intended it to
be produced. The cast is thin and the stein is taller than the second stein
shown with it. The difference in length has to do with a longer grinding process
used on the lip of the second stein so that it is not only shorter but it does
not flair out as much as in the original prototype.

                              Purchase this Rare Vintage Prototype Stein for your special collection

This stein is a product of a
moment in history and a perfect example of the prototypical form of the classic
Andersen Design Blue striped stein, all hand-made and decorated by, Weston Neil

Andersen Design is an American Designer Craftsmen Studio established by Weston
and Brenda Andersen in 1952 on Southport Island, Maine, USA. The studio was
started with a philosophy of creating hand crafted products affordable to the
middle class. Andersen Design remained an American made ceramic studio when
most of the western ceramic industry moved production to foreign labor markets
and competed successfully in a market flooded with foreign made imports,
producing a hand-made art product affordable to the middle class. Andersen
Design stands as a singular American original design company taking a unique
alternative path during an era of global transformation.

One of a Kind Vintage Portrait Bowls by Brenda Andersen

Andersen Design is an American Designer Craftsmen Studio established by Weston and Brenda Andersen in 1952 on Southport Island, Maine, USA. The studio was established with a philosophy of creating hand crafted products affordable to the middle class. It designed original glazes and decorative techniques and designed a line of contemporary functional forms and nature sculptures, using slip cast production as the medium for creating art. 

Brenda developed archetypical patterns as repeatable patterns to be rendered by the unique hand 
of individual artisans so that no two were ever exactly alike. She also used the ceramic medium to create many one-of-kind artworks. One of her favorite subjects was portraiture.

This bowl is an original one  of a kind object created by Brenda Nash Andersen

The story begins Weston and Brenda setting out to create a unique and creative American ceramic design and
slip casting company without anyone to tell them how do it. This bowl is a
portrait of a journey in its beginning.

The portrait is of Susan, the second eldest daughter, which is myself, author
of this description. I look to be about the age I was when our family moved to
Maine, dating this bowl at 1952.

Andersen Design remained an American made ceramic studio at a time when most of
the western ceramic industry moved production to foreign labor markets. The
company competed successfully in a market flooded with foreign made imports,
producing a hand-made art product affordable to the middle class. The work was
collected by Americans of every walk of life and collections handed down
through the generations.

Andersen Design stands as a
singular original American design company choosing an alternative path during
an era of global transformation. It is my inherited responsibility to tell the
story of this unique American company. The practice of creating and making
ceramics is as invaluable an aspect of what Andersen Design innovated as are the
hand-made objects created by the process.

Karen or Gerda? That is the Question.

There is a debate as to wether it is a portrait of Karen, the eldest daughter or Gerda, the third daughter. While I agree that it looks more like Gerda than Karen, the similarity of the signatures with the bowl above, which is clearly a portrait of Susan and not Elise, since Susan and Elise have distinctly different eyes and hair. Susan’s hair was always curly, and Elise’s hair was straight. The signature of the two bowls are almost identical.

The bowls are dated by the signatures on the bottom in which “Andersen” is spelled
the Swedish way, as “Anderson”. Weston’s family is Danish but when they first
migrated to America someone changed the spelling of “Andersen” to “Anderson”.
Weston changed the spelling back to “Andersen” in the fifties but this bowl has
the signature signed with an “O” indicating that it was done at a very early
date and that the portrait is of Karen, the eldest daughter.

That point made, it can be a mistake to indentify a work by the signature on the bottom. For years I thought This work of a girl jump roping was by my mother. It is true it has a child like aspect to it, but mother had such a character that it did not seem implausible that she could have created this piece and her signature is on the bottom:

However when we started reviewing pieces known to have been done by myself as a child, the theme emerged that I painted wreaths around the characters. It then became more plausible that my mother signed the bottoms of the platters before she painted them. I came along and did my own art work on a platter which my mother had already signed, making the girl jumping rope a self portrait by this author.

Andersen Design remained an American made ceramic studio when most of the
western ceramic industry moved production to foreign labor markets and competed
successfully in a market flooded with foreign made imports, producing a
hand-made art product affordable to the middle class. Andersen Design stands as
a singular American original design company taking the road less travelled
during an era of global transformation.

Andersen Design Vintage In Wiscasset Community Center Show

Prototype design- Carved Vase by Weston Neil Andersen

This weekend, on Saturday , April 7th, Andersen Design will be featured in the First Vintage Show at the Wiscasset Community Center

Phone(207) 882-8230Websitehttp://www.wiscassetrec.com/

A sampling of cobbles- small inexpensive but individualistic ceramic art

The entry road to the Center runs next to the sports field to the Wiscasset High School. Traveling on the road headed to Augusta from Wiscasset, the entry road is before on epasses the sports field. There is a red & white sign announcing the show.

The show includes work made by local artisans . We fit into both the vintage and local artisans category and will be displaying both.

An early 1950’s Andersen Chowder Bowl, signed in the hand written Andersen signature
For the last several months, I have been photographing our vintage work and publishing it in an Air Table data base. The data base is not yet ready for prime time and so is not yet publicly accessible but we will grant access by special request.

We have 467 pieces documented to date and a lot more to add. This includes everything from mint pieces to broken pieces. During the 65 years in which Andersen Design has been producing ceramic art and design, many one of a kind decorated pieces were created using our slip cast designs as a canvas. Back in the day, when there was no instant documentation technology. the best pieces were quickly sold without a record being made. We got to keep the broken or chipped works. 

Recently I found a box of broken rectangular trays completely blacked with soot, because they had been in a house fire. I washed off the soot and found underneath a jig saw puzzle of decorative ceramic drawings by my mother. They look like an artists sketch pad but they are not as easy to do in ceramics as they look. Ceramics is not a what-you-see-is-what-you-get technology. Colors after being fired look nothing like the un-fired colors. Ceramic colors are also very sensitive to teh weight of application. My mother ( Brenda Andersen)’s drawings looked so spontaneous that one can only presume that she had a very intuitive relationship to the ceramic decorating process. This kind of work is rarely done, especially not in production ceramics, which is why I often say that Andersen Design was doing production as an art form long before it was invented by Andy Warhol.
A drawing of the author of this blog as a young girl by Brenda Andersen

Although many of our retained works are broken, they represent a larger body of work that is out there across the American landscape, individualistic – one- of- a – kind artists work which has never been recorded for prosperity. This is one task we hope to accomplish through the Andersen Design Museum of American Designer Craftsmen.

So come to the show at WiscassetCommunity Center on Saturday and see what a historical perspective of one of America’s most unusual and classic ceramic design companies looks like. See you there!

Three of Brenda’s Studio work done on the large Egg Form Vase by Weston


Mackenzie Andersen Makes Finalist in Pen Literary Rewards for Public Private Relationships and the New Owners of the means of Production


The combination of our New York and Los Angeles offices and membership strongholds will provide tent poles on each coast, enabling us to accelerate efforts to build a truly national organization. Our goal is to build a national constituency of writers and readers who are energized to defend open discourse; foster the exchange of ideas across political, geographic and ideological bounds; amplify unheard voices; and stand with writers and creators who face persecution. Over the last year, PEN America has taken new steps to engage and mobilize members across the country through events, activities and leadership development in more than a dozen cities including Tulsa, Tucson, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Detroit, and New Orleans.

The timing of this union is no coincidence as we face potent challenges to free speech, press freedom, the right to dissent, and the open flow of information here in the United States. Never have the voices of writers and their allies been so essential. Members of the writing community have a vital role to play in shaping public discourse, resisting encroachments on treasured freedoms, and standing with those on the front lines to safeguard the values at the heart of PEN’s mission. These treacherous times have prompted a far-reaching discussion about how PEN’s manifold efforts could be fortified. It became obvious that rather than toiling separately, we should marshal our energies, resources, and ideas in order to maximize our collective impact in the United States and around the world.

Last Summer I entered my ongoing project Public Private Relationships and the New Owners of the Means of Production in the Oral History category of the Pen Literary awards .It is the first writing competition which I have entered and so to make it as far as the finalists is very encouraging.

 The entry confirmation said this:

Dear Susan Andersen, 

Thank you for submitting Public Private Relationships and the New Owners of the Means of Production for the 2018 PEN/Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History. We are writing to confirm that we received your application, and if we should require any additional information, we’ll be sure to be in touch. 

Applicants will be notified immediately when/if their project is no longer under consideration. If you should have any questions in the meantime, please write to awards@pen.org

Please visit PEN.org/awards for updates regarding the timing for the announcement of the winner of the award. 

Thank you! 
PEN Literary Awards

Then I didn’t hear back until I received this: 

Dear Susan Andersen, 

Thank you for submitting Public Private Relationships and the New Owners of the Means of Production for the 2018 PEN/Jean Stein Grant for Literary Oral History. The overall quality of this year’s applications was quite high, making for some very difficult decisions for our judges. The judges have made their final selections, and I regret to inform you that your project has not been chosen as the winner. 

We are tremendously grateful for your submission to this award, and we hope that you will consider submitting another project of yours for this award in the future. Submissions for the 2019 Awards Cycle will open in the late spring. 

Please note that due to the large volume of applications that our judges review, they are unable to offer feedback or recommendations on any particular project. 

We know this isn’t the update you were hoping for, but we would nevertheless like to take this opportunity to wish you the best of success with your work. 

Best regards, 
The PEN America Literary Awards Department 

588 Broadway Suite 303, New York, NY 10012, USA 
pen.org | facebook.com/penamerican | @penamerican 
The Freedom to Write

You can go here to view the submission:

Wendy Rosen’s Campaign for Indelible Labeling Meets the Global State’s Foreign Trade Zones.

Click to Go to our KickStarter Campaign Preview

I saw this Posted on FaceBook by Wendy Rosen, a mover and shaker in the American crafts market:


Wendy Rosen has been advocating for indelible labeling of imports for years. During the beginning of the Baldacci administration, Wendy Rosen sent me an initiative on this and I submitted it to “the creative economy list serve” a list serve sponsored by Maine’s public-private government, jurored by its friends. My message asked Mainers to contact Olympia Snowe but the overlords of the listserve rejected my submission.

I then took the message to a local craft fair. I could not even finish my first sentence before people were grabbing it out of my hand. I told them that it had been rejected from the list serve. Someone suggested I contact Mrs Baldacci. I did so but did not get a personal response from the Governor’s wife. However, several months later I received a demented apology from the list serve jurors, explaining that they thought it was spam.

Years later while researching for my book, “Public Private Relationships and the New Owners of the Means of Production”, I learned that the labels are removed at foreign trade zones. Maine receives federal money for setting up foreign trade zones. Corporation with shareholders are required to maximise profits, which they do by locating production where labor is least expensive. Large corporations make higher profits than American made hand crafts and so the state protects the interests of global markets, as is written into the Legislative treatise establishing the DECD, which manages the foreign trade zones. The findings section of the statute establishing Maine’s Department of Economic and Community Development illuminates a a philosophy in which the State’s function is to facilitate globalism and to conform to the new world order in which manufacturing takes place where ever the cost of labor is the least in the global economy.

§13051. Legislative findings (Department of Economic and Community Development)

The Legislature finds that the State’s economy is linked to the national and international economies. Economic changes and disruptions around the world and in the nation have a significant impact upon the State’s economy. The rise of 3rd-world and 4th-world countries as manufacturers of commodities for mass markets and the gradual evolution of the national economy to a technological, informational, specialty product-based economy have significantly affected the State and its communities. [RR 2013, c. 2, §5 (COR).] 

 In order for the State’s economy to grow and gain a solid footing, it is necessary to determine the State’s assets and the economic opportunities that are or will be available to the State’s enterprise, municipalities and labor force. When these opportunities are determined or become apparent, state economic development policies and programs must be focused on facilitating the realization of these opportunities and removing barriers that impede the exploitation of these opportunities. [1987, c. 534, Pt. A, §§17, 19 (NEW).] (emphasis mine)

The Legislature finds that an economic development strategy designed to focus the State’s economic development activities and resources on economic opportunities can significantly help the State and its municipalities realize greater growth and prosperity without adversely affecting the quality of life in the State. An economic development strategy must recognize and reflect the different needs, conditions and opportunities of the several different economic regions of the State. This strategy must be flexible and periodically evaluated to make it consistent with changes in conditions and opportunities that arise during these times of dynamic change. It is necessary to involve municipalities, regional economic development organizations and the private sector in the formulation of this strategy in order to establish a well-developed and comprehensive plan that has the support of the State’s citizens and officials. [1987, c. 534, Pt. A, §§17, 19 (NEW).]

Note that in this statutory rhetoric, enterprises, municipalities, and labor force are treated as belonging to the State. For argument’s sake if you take the phrase “The State” out of the sentence, it conveys a different meaning, ie” In order for the Maine economy to grow and gain a solid footing, it is necessary to determine the assets and the economic opportunities that are or will be available to enterprises, municipalities and the labor force.”  The state’s interest lies in managing the entire labor force in the state, which explains why entrepreneurialism is inconceivable in the bottom half of the economy which the state does not serve because it only serves “the quality jobs sector” which by definition is that sector offering a higher than average income- subsidized by the state of course! The entire labor force of Maine is conceived as belonging to the state, along with the enterprises and municipalities. The state gains ownership of the municipalities through regionalism, which gradually eliminates the municipal referendum as it transfers decision making to regional boards. That is why business ownership is discouraged in the bottom of the economy. The state has created a taxpayer subsidized top of the economy designated as the “quality jobs” sector, in which the state plays the role outlined in Mussolini’s Doctrine of Fascism.

Conception of a corporative state
The Ministry of Corporations is not a bureaucratic organ, nor does it wish to exercise the functions of syndical organizations which are necessarily independent, since they aim at organizing, selecting and improving the members of syndicates. The Ministry of Corporations is an institution in virtue of which, in the centre and outside, integral corporation becomes an accomplished fact, where balance is achieved between interests and forces of the economic world. Such a glance is only possible within the sphere of the state, because the state alone transcends the contrasting interests of groups and individuals, in view of co-coordinating them to achieve higher aims. The achievement of these aims is speeded up by the fact that all economic organizations, acknowledged, safeguarded and supported by the Corporative State, exist within the orbit of Fascism; in other terms they accept the conception of Fascism in theory and in practice. (speech at the opening of the Ministry of Corporations, July 31, 1926, in Discorsi del 1926, Milano, Alpes, 1927, p. 250) The Doctrine of Fascism, Benito Mussolini, 193239

In Maine, today, one could just replace “The Ministry of Corporations:with §3304.Industry partnerships, passed by the Maine Legislature in 2015.

One also finds the historical origins of the “quality jobs” sector in Mussolini’s writings:

Grouped According to their several interests, individuals form classes; they form trade-unions when organized according to their several economic activities; but first and foremost they form the State, which is no mere matter of numbers, the sums of the individuals forming the majority. Fascism is therefore opposed to that form of democracy which equates a nation to the majority, lowering it to the level of the largest number but it is the purest form of democracy if the nation be considered as it should be from the point of view of quality rather than quantity. The Doctrine of Fascism 

It is not the role of the DECD or Maine’s creative economy to protect American and Maine made products from fraudulent imitators. If the local government does not protect the interest of Maine and American made manufacturing from fraudulent imitators abroad, then who does? Foreign Trade Zones facilitate the foreign imitators by providing the facilities where the transformation of the identity of country of origin can take place.

Recently, I checked out the donation page of a local economic development group. There I found Aid To Artisans, a Washington DC based non-profit dedicated to using the crafts to help low income people develop economic independence in “emerging countries”, though sometimes they say “all over the world”. I have never received an enthusiastic response from the local economic development group, or from any other economic development group in Maine. Usually I do not receive an answer to my correspondence. When I do, it is a list of classes for “start ups” or a link to a different organization. When I asked for help with our business plan from the local economic development group, I mentioned that my partner had been in talks with someone from their organization about licensing but I not heard back from them in months. Thereafter my partner heard back but was told they only deal with one person per company, to let her know why I would not receive a response.  I developed my business plan on my own, as a working partner business plan.

Here is the description about what Aid to Artisans does from their website:

This new partnership will broaden ATA’s capacity to transform artisan skills into profitable businesses in emerging countries. ATA’s signature approach is centered on market driven product development, entrepreneurial training and access to ATA’s international buyer network, developed during more than 38 years of creating sustainable income for artisans in more than 110 countries. Creative Learning brings expertise in large-scale development initiatives aimed at improving infrastructure, upgrading health and education, creating jobs, and preventing or reversing damage to the environment. With support in management and program design from Creative Learning, ATA will continue to leverage its global expertise for compounded economic impact, bolstering linkages between artisans and international markets Aid To Artisans, About Us ( emphasis mine)

Like most organizations in Maine, the local development group uses the coded language of the State rhetoric. In the global economy, with many organizations, expressing their goals using similar language and concepts, crafts are used to develop economic independence in “third world countries”, where the global low cost labor markets used by large corporations with obligations to the shareholders to maximize profits, manufacture. Is there a connection to the “grass roots”  non-profit global economic development initiatives which use the crafts to stimulate economic independence ? “Crafts”, “making”, and “manufacture” are words which mean the same thing, but in American politically correct society, “production” is a word on the “Do not use list”. My application for fiscal sponsorship as a social enterprise, which would use the crafts as a way to develop economic independence in low income areas of Maine, was rejected because I used the word “production” on my application, which the board said meant I was only in it for the money, although Andersen Design has never had shareholders and so is not obligated to maximize profits. We competed successfully for years in a market dominated by products made in global low-ost markets. The large corporations which sells a mug in the same price range as we do, but has it manufactured in the global low cost market, makes a much larger profit.

PREVIEW LINK TO ANDERSEN DESIGN KICKSTARTER PROJECTWe Need To Develop A list of supporters who will pledge on day  one before we can launch.We are also looking for talent who can help us to produce the video

Later I ran into the taboo against the word “production” when I invited a local individual over to meet with our group about developing a video for our Kickstarter project, or so I thought. Instead he sat at the table and proceeded to play the role of business consultant. When I used the word “production”, he stopped me mid-sentence, to tell me I should not use that word. He then proceeded to tell us that we cannot do a Kickstarter because we are not a start-up company- using the word “kickstarter” to justify his logic, displaying his lack of real research into the development of KickStarter. KickStarter is being used today to launch products on the market and to finance ceramic production studios. Kickstarter is a free enterprise development, which is a counter political philosophy to a centrally managed economy. Perhaps this explains why one finds no support for developing a KickStarter project from local economic development groups, apparent extensions of the state, whose political philosophy is expressed above in the findings for Maine’s Department of Economic and Community Development, which performs the planning function for the FAME corporation, which concentrates and redistributes wealth in Maine. And the web weaves on.

Our would-be collaborator never discussed making a video.It amazes me that one cannot find support for making a video. This is a natural business for someone to start up in today’s economy or for economic development groups to offer, but it seems, it is not consistent with central management’s agenda to offer services which might help independent grass roots entrepreneurs in the USA.

So many years later Wendy Rosen is still an activist for indelible labels on foreign imports and still the government does nothing.It is aligned with the new global world order like any hot shot should be!

This is Part three in a Series which starts HERE

A Turn in the Road From Extinction to Distinction

PART TWO in a series in which I  place Andersen Design’s vision of economic development in the economic development environment in Maine Go to Part One

Patron and Collaborator, Bob Rose standing among some of Maine;s “underutilized resources” 

A special request

It is the legacy of the second generation of Andersen Design, including yours truly, to preserve the Andersen Design tradition and meld it into the 21st century. Today more than ever, it teeters on the brink of extinction. To secure it’s physical headquarters, and work space, which is also where we live on a rental basis, we need to raise $2000.00 in funds available by Friday.

You can make a donation to our ready cash fund to cure the most immediate need here:


This is a donation to this research and opinion blog, which I have been individually maintaining since 2007. If Andersen Design makes it through this existential crisis, we will be willing to make good on your donation, on an individual basis, if you present the receipt to us, when we are up and running again.

featuring special vintage pieces and items that are either 

currently in production or are scheduled to be in production

We need to establish a fund for monthly recurring contributions totaling $2000.00 or more so that we are not continually dealing with an existential crisis as we are trying to re-establish our new foundation. Tax deductible contributions can be made through our Fractured Atlas project, Andersen Design American Phoenix. Those contributions take a week to process and will not be available by Friday.

There are a couple ways to make a tax deductible contribution:

1. You can donate by credit card online at the link below:The Andersen Design American Phoenix Project2.

If you prefer, you can also donate by check. Please send contributions to Andersen Design, 103 Cochran Rd, Edgecomb, Maine 04556-3024. Checks should be made payable to Fractured Atlas,

The Andersen Design American Phoenix in the memo line.The Andersen Design American Phoenix is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non‐profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of The Andersen Design American Phoenix must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” and are tax‐deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Andersen Design took years to establish. It is hard to imagine anyone today persevering through such a long birthing process. In the years of prosperity that followed, my father complained that he was in a tax bracket in which the government was taking 50% of what he made. In those years, Andersen Design was in the taxpaying class heavily relied upon to finance the investor class of the Maine’s new public-private government. Today, when Andersen Design is in need of capital, the response from the economic development bureaucracy is “Drop dead!”

As I wrote in my last post, the Midcoast Maine Community Action group’s mission statement emphasizes economic development and economic independence, identifying that it serves low income, “at risk ” people, which is currently myself. The website says they help us with our problems by helping us to identify what our problems are. How it can it be true that they help us with our problems, which they identify? In our case their definitions occlude the whole nature of who we are. The assumption in that conjunction is that low income people are not capable of identifying their own problems. The mission statement is a language trap. The word “economic development” is processed through the term “at risk” to take on a meaning that economic development is security gained through public assistance, not growth and opportunity, but a security floor, which raises one out of the at risk category. Period.

Yesterday, I tried to explain to MMCA that a significant part of our income is derived from a business in our home. In that case, I was told, the group could not help me because I am a business. Aren’t businesses part of economic development?  No, not the way they define economic development which is helping people with personal needs. I said, currently our gallery is not yet operational but I use the phone and home office to generate income. Then they cannot help me because I am doing business in the home The way MMCA defines economic development excludes businesses, despite the fact that their mission statement specifically includes business as a category they serve, It was explained to me that they were formerly called an economic development group but now their name has been changed to a community action group, I called that devolution. Maine is devolving into feudalism! Expect the word “businesses” to soon disappear from MMCA’s mission statement, as did the words “helping people to become economically independent” disappear from Boothbay Resource’s mission statement after I suggested to that organization that they could fiscally sponsor Andersen Design.

A year ago I was dealing with the other end of the spectrum and trying to get help in writing our business plan from a business consultant who has a private practice and is also associated with several of Maine’s public economic development resources and active in the art world. That sounds like a good combination for Andersen Design. I shall call him Mr Green, not his real name.

The first thing I encountered is a rule one frequently encounters at this strata of Maine’s economic development system. Mr. Green would only talk to one person from any organization. I see no benefit in this rule for the client. It exists solely because it makes it easier for the consultant. It  establishes a class order in which corporate heads only talk to corporate heads. In our case there is more than one principal. Since I was not an executor of my father’s will, I was excluded from conversation, left to judge what was going on by hearsay. It seemed that all had gone well with the first meeting but I could see my partner was offended in the first follow up phone call. After a while I became confused about Mr Green’s role. At first I believed he was there to help us with our business plan but after a while I came to believe that we were supposed to present a plan to him so I called one of the public economic development groups in which Mr Green is listed as a consultant. I asked for help with writing a business plan which we could present to Mr Green and insisted that all principals needed to be at the meeting.

Mr Green there after called to schedule a meeting with all of us. The meeting began with Mr Green asking why I though we were there. I said, to have a dialogue. He said “Do you know what I think a dialogue is? Me talking and no one interrupting !”. That sounded like my definition of a monologue but I sat back and let him deliver a generic speech. Mr Green is a thinly censored man with a tendency to blurt out what is foremost on his mind and so he commented many times over that our product is of very high quality and our brand surely has strength. I appreciate him for that because through the many doors that I passed through during this last year, most treated Andersen Design as having no value, people like Wendy Wolf of the JECD development group,and others. Mr Green’s opinion carries more weight. His art background is consistent with knowledge of our field.

Mr Green’s delivery was punctuated by repeatedly asking if we wanted to work with him, and at other times exclaiming that he couldn’t work with us. Was it disdain or insecurity? It felt like both, his disdain for having to deal with people of our distressed financial status and insecurity stemming from recognition of the value of our intellectual property assets. In Maine’s two tiered cultural system, there is no room for ownership in the bottom half of the economy, intellectual property rights, or otherwise.

Eventually, I wrote the business plan on my own, after Mr Green did not respond to any contact after the first meeting, The plan I wrote incorporated my long held vision for a network of studios independently owned by the people engaged in the work process. When I mentioned this idea to Mr Green, he said, “That’s illegal! I can’t work with you if you are going to do illegal things!” Did he not listen or was it just that he couldn’t deal with the concept of a world with entrepreneurs in the bottom half of the economy? 

Andersen Design serves a public benefit in unique and unrecognized ways

Andersen Design has always taken the road less travelled. The originating philosophical mission was to create a hand made product affordable to the middle class. Those were the days of a middle class so great that my father described it as a bell curve in which the largest amount of wealth distributed among the largest number of people. Because Andersen Design was started with such a philosophy, Andersen Design’s art, as the public elected to call it, was collected by Americans of every walk of life and handed down from one generation to the next. For sixty five years many special works were created, and without being documented, were sold. Works are special because of their superior craftsmanship, or because their one of a kind decorative finish, or because they have a very rare glaze, or the interactive glazes, that Andersen Design uses in its production process, turned out to be particularly stunning as in the bowl shown here:

Dad was always carving, cutting out, stacking, and cut and pasting ceramic forms into new configurations. 

 And Brenda painted with vitality and expression, never rote :
The whole family was engaged in the creative process:
Girl in a Wreath. Jumping Rope by Susan Mackenzie Andersen, in the private collection of Terry Seaman

There is no telling how many very special Andersen pieces are hidden across the American landscape in the private collections handed down from generation to generation by families of ordinary means. works forgotten to our memories. The most exquisite pieces were sold, without a record made. When Andersen Design is professionally established as the go-to dealer of Andersen, we have a great likelihood of attracting the most unusual work. documenting it, representing those works in the market place and placing them in Museum show venues. Andersen vintage pieces can be donated to the museum as a tax deductible contribution, but the market establishes the value of the donations.

As with other online markets, in example, Ebay, Amazon, and Etsy, a go-to market for antiques dealers is already established. It is competitive to get into this market place. One must have references with other dealers who are already in the marketplace being the preferred reference. Fortunately, we have such references and have been invited to phase two of the application process. Online research reports a very high monthly fees for participating in this marketplace, but tradeshows are equally expensive. There is also a section for twenty first century design in which contemporary ceramic vases sell for several thousand dollars. Andersen Design can develop and encourage products for such a market. It is a different direction from our founding philosophy but consistent with the way the world has changed since then. Put that together with “The Great American Ceramic Craftsmen Designer Network” of my vision and Andersen Design can be a marketing venue for a plethora of creativity emerging from the small independently owned studios in the network. I have envisioned the network situated in Maine’s low income high unemployment areas which have been virtually ignored by Maine’s public-private government. I call it the free enterprise zone, areas where businesses in the home are potentially still allowed in municipal zoning ordinances.

Conceptually speaking, if we should be accepted as a dealer in the world class market, it would benefit many of our private collectors. If we can establish the “Great American Ceramic Designer Craftsmen Network”, any one of those studios could develop products for the 21st century line with the  Andersen Design brand, providing them access to the global high end market of dealers and interior decorators.

The dealership is a private enterprise. The archival work is a function of  the fiscally sponsored Andersen Design Museum of American Designer Craftsmen, which is still a private enterprise, which pays taxes, but is permitted to accept tax deductible contributions via our fiscal sponsor.

The Museum can play a role in bringing. into the light of day, the works hidden from public view in the private collections of ordinary Americans.  I have been documenting our vintage pieces on Airtable. Given available financial resources that can be expanded as a data base of works in other private collections. Andersen Design collections can be donated as a tax-deductible contribution to any museum but it is the private market which establishes the value of the contributions.

Go to Part One  Go to Part Three

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