Sewer Pipe Pottery Planter Built on Broken Pipe Sections. Waste not, want not. A primitive planter made of sewer pipe clay filled around several broken pipe sections. A fine, if unshapely example of "make-do" end of the day creation. Likely Ohio. Circa 1900. Collection Jim Linderman
Clearly, the end-of-day sewer pipe sculptures made by factory workers from the 19th and 20th centuries in the Midwest are one of the last (and least) recognized and appreciated folk art forms in the US. While only one major book was produced on the topic (Jack Adamson's Illustrated Handbook of Ohio Sewer Pipe Folk Art in 1973) there are a few sources which brought the objects into light. A perceptive chapter appears in Wendy Lavitt's Animals in American Folk Art from 1990:
"Workers created these end of the day pieces for themselves, to give as presents or sell for extra income. They modeled the leftover moist clay that if not used would have hardened into unusable lumps...As people discovered sewer-tile sculpture, the stoneware potteries themselves began using molds to re-create the most popular items such as the lion on a base. However, most forms remained to sewer tile plants, with workers teaching their fellow workers, handing down "recipes" from the time that the first lion was made (probably about 1900) until well into the 1940s." Both books are out of print, but often available from used book sources.
Reclining Dog Chewing on a Shoe. While handmade and signed on base "B.J." this was likely a "well-used" mold. Lack of detail evident. Collection Jim Linderman