George Harrison Wright: 1917-2012: George Wright passed away peacefully on November 14, 2012 in his home in Manning, Oregon. George will be remembered by the Oregon Clay Community for his innovative kiln designs, his support of Northwest potters, and, of course, for his Hair of the Dog Clay.
George was always involved in clay, but he was never really a potter. After being discharged from the Army at the end of World War II, he and a friend bought a brickyard in Mollala, Oregon. George remained in the brick business until the 1960s. During that time, his wife, Pearl, who was a gifted artist, began to work with clay. When George discovered that the clay she was using came from Los Angeles, he looked at his brickyard and realized that his pugmill could be used to make pottery clay. So George began a clay-making business and soon sup- plied schools and potters all over Oregon.
In the mid 60s, George also began to work for a young high tech company, Tektronix. He worked in the ceramics department producing state of the art cathode ray tubes (“the easiest job I ever had, just walked around turning switches on kilns all day”) After leaving Tektronix, George and Pearl bought 30 acres in Manning, Oregon, where they invited young artists to come and live in cottages and work in clay on their property. George continued to make clay, and also began to design and build a variety of kilns. Pearl painted and worked with clay, and together they opened the Pearl Wright Gallery. Many young potters worked on their property through the 1970s and 80s, and George helped people to build and fire a variety of propane, wood and salt kilns on the property. In the 70s, Fred Olsen visited George, and subsequently based his famous “Olsen Fast Fire Wood Kiln” on one of George’s designs.
In the 1980s, George developed a clay for making large sculptures. This clay, which contained (among other things) a lot of nylon fiber, looked pretty hairy when you cut through it with a wire. So it became “Hair of the Dog Clay” and is used by sculptors throughout the Northwest.
George was a devout Christian. But he was extraordinarily tolerant of the motley crew of artists he met and with whom he shared his life, his kilns, his clay and his knowledge.