Pottery, Sotapitcher unveil new product
What started as an offhanded remark about the shape of the state of Minnesota by one of Eric Darling’s friends culminated Friday morning in the Red Wing Pottery Showroom when Darling and John Howe, former Red Wing mayor and state senator, lifted the veil on a new line of products to be manufactured exclusively by Red Wing Pottery.
The product: mugs shaped like the state of Minnesota.
During a firing that included the first test version of the product, a shelf broke in the kiln. The firing was stopped, and Red Wing Pottery CEO Bruce Johnson said that when they pulled the shelf out of the kiln the remaining piece was in the shape of Minnesota.
Johnson said it was then that he knew the partnership was meant to be.Darling, founder of Sotapitcher and the driving force behind the Minnesota-shaped mugs, said he wanted the product to be quality and made in Minnesota, which led him to Red Wing.“It was just an obvious partnership,” Darling said shortly before the mugs were unveiled.Johnson said the plan is to extend the mug to an entire suite of mugs ranging from 64 ounces down to a small ornamental piece.“It is the state, it represents the state and it represents kind of what we wanted to do,” Johnson said. “Our products are about celebrating the history, beauty, business and uniqueness found all across the state.”A limited number of first edition Sotapitcher products will be on sale Friday July 11 during the Red Wing Collectors Society convention, which runs July 10-12.Darling said a Kickstarter campaign will start the same day to help increase production capacity and make the products available to Minnesotans everywhere.“By giving Minnesotans an opportunity to support its creation the Sotapitcher will truly be a product made by Minnesotans for Minnesotans,” he said.Close to closingAfter the 2013 Red Wing Collectors Society convention, it was unclear if Red Wing Pottery would be making products — new or otherwise — in the years to come.The Pottery was set to close at the end of 2013 unless the Gillmer family, who owned the Pottery since the 1960s, found a buyer. Bruce and Irene Johnson, who purchased Red Wing Stoneware Co. in November 2013, then purchased Red Wing Pottery too.This is the first new product line to come out from Red Wing Pottery since the Johnsons took over.