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29000 BCE - 25000 BCE
Gravettian figurines including the Venus of Dolní Věstonice.
Oldest pottery vessels known found in Japan
Pottery production at the Amur River in modern-day Russia.
Ovens in use in the Near East are applied to pottery production.
Oldest faience workshop in Egypt founded at Abydos.
c. 4000 BCE
Creation at Uruk of first mass-produced bowls.
c. 2000 BCE
Pottery wheel introduced to Minoan civilization on Crete.
c. 1000 BCE
The first distinctive Greek pottery is produced, the Proto-geometric style.
c. 900 BCE
The Geometric style of Greek pottery is first produced.
675 BCE - 626 BCE
c. 625 BCE
Black-figure pottery created in Corinth.
c. 625 BCE - 600 BCE
The orientalizing style of Greek pottery becomes popular in Corinth.
625 BCE - 575 BCE
Transitional bucchero pottery style in Etruria.
c. 620 BCE - 600 BCE
Proto-corinthian reaches its zenith in artistic quality producing the best pottery in Greece.
600 BCE - 480 BCE
Attic black-figure pottery dominates the greek ceramic market.
575 BCE - 480 BCE
c. 570 BCE - c. 560 BCE
The black-figure Francois Vase is produced in Attica by Ergotimos (potter) and Kleitias (painter).
560 BCE - 520 BCE
Chalkidian black-figure pottery is produced in southern Italy.
545 BCE - 530 BCE
Exekias, perhaps the greatest black-figure pottery painter is active.
c. 530 BCE
Red-figure pottery style takes precedent over black-figure.
The Andokides Painter invents red-figure pottery.
Last recorded examples of Attic Red-Figure Pottery.
c. 300 CE - c. 700 CE
Haniwa terracotta figurines are placed outside Japanese mound tombs or kofun.
Key milestones in the history of California pottery include: the arrival of Spanish settlers, the advent of Statehood and subsequent population growth, the arts and crafts movement, Great Depression, World War II era and the post-WWII onslaught of low-priced imports leading to a steep decline in the number of California potteries. California potters large and small have left a legacy of tableware design, collectibles, art, and architecture.
Pottery Timeline - History
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“ Ceramics are all around us. It is one of the most ancient industries on the planet. We often take for granted the major role ceramics has played in the progress of mankind. Once humans discovered that clay could be dug up and formed into objects by first mixing with water and then firing, the industry was born. As early as 24,000 BC, animal and human figurines were made from clay and other materials, and then fired in kilns partially dug into the ground. 10,000 years later, as settled communities were established, tiles were manufactured in Mesopotamia and India. The first use of functional pottery vessels for storing water and food is thought to be around 9,000 or 10,000 BC. Clay bricks also began to be made around the same time. Glass was believed discovered in Egypt around 8,000 BC, when overheating of kilns produced a colored glaze on the pottery. Experts estimate that it was not until 1,500 BC that glass was produced independently of ceramics and fashioned into separate items.”¹ Hobby ceramics, as we have come to know it today, exploded into the conscience of the public during the Great Depression. Erma Duncan, founder of Duncan Enterprises and Francis Darby, founder of Paragon Industries, began making glazes and kilns, respectively, for the home artist to enjoy making ceramics at home. The hierarchy of the ceramic manufacturer, distributor, traditional dealer and customer was formed. The manufacturer made the molds, color, brushes, tools and kilns. The manufacturer required a distributor to stock a large inventory of the product and educated the distributor on the product. The distributor then educated and sold the product to the dealer or traditional ceramic shop, school, finished ware producer or potter. The public was required to purchase the product from the distributor. Of course, some distributors and dealers did a better job of selling because they did a better job of educating and servicing the end customer. Manufacturers offered certification programs to distributors and dealers. Those receiving certification were then able to teach ceramics to the general public. From the 1920’s and until the introduction of the contemporary ceramic studio in the 1990’s, for the general public, there were only traditional ceramic dealers and potter’s studios. At the traditional ceramic shops, molds were purchased from mold distributors or manufacturers. Owners mixed liquid slip, poured it into the molds, let it set-up, poured it out, and set the greenware out on shelves for sale. Customers purchased glazes, brushes and tools from the shop and either worked on the projects at the shop or took them home to work on them. Then they would bring them back to the shop to be fired. Often times classes were offered for the beginner, intermediate or advanced students. In the potter’s studio, one or more master potters worked long and hard on their potter’s wheels to create beautiful and functional works of art, but the experience wasn’t available to customers off the street. Years and years of study and apprenticeship were the only way to go if one wanted to become a master potter. Many potters went on to become finished ware producers as their businesses grew, creating not only functional ceramics, but ceramic fine art. From the 20’s and up until the mid 1980’s, the ceramic industry boomed and flourished. But during the mid 80’s, some of the manufacturers that were not keeping up with new products and new education began to suffer loss of sales. When they began selling directly to the public, bypassing the distributors and dealers, the education process suffered, as well, and thus the decline of the business of ceramics began. In 1993, the contemporary ceramic studio concept, today popularly known as paint-your-own-pottery (PYOP), emerged to offer the general public paint, brushes, glazing and firing, bisque instead of greenware - all for one price, in an appealing studio setting. This new concept coincided with the huge growth in America involving the home and garden niche markets and “Do-It-Yourself” genres of business. Lowe’s, Michael’s, Martha Stewart, Home Depot, Home and Garden TV (HGTV), Home Shopping Network, Hobby Lobby and Garden Ridge were all part of an exploding craft industry. Today, approximately 1800 studios exist around the world, up from 50 studios in 1995. Around the year 2000, studios began showing up in Europe and Asia – England, Germany, France, China, Japan, Austria and other countries. The Internet, the growth of the DIY and the new paint your own pottery concept put a much needed jolt in the ceramic industry. In 2002, and as recent as late 2006, the magazines, Craft Trends and Craft Reports, stated Wall Street was paying very close attention to the overall craft industry – and with good reason. Super hobby and craft stores like Michaels, Hobby Lobby and Jo Ann’s Fabrics were consistently showing staggering profits. Everyday, not only new craft shows, but also whole craft networks were showing up on television and the ever-growing cable and satellite franchises. And here we are at the birth of the 21st century. In 2015, the world economy seems unsure and shaky, at best - What does this mean for the ceramic and fired arts industry? When we consider the history of ceramics and especially its popularity in the last century - remember, it exploded during the Great Depression, as did the entertainment industry - we can see ceramics and fired arts will always be with us for so many reasons. Mankind NEEDS ceramics - for functional reasons and for artistic reasons. We have to express ourselves and making something creative that can last a lifetime with our hands is relaxing, stimulating and enduring. So there is no surprise that during these difficult times while other industries struggle to survive, ceramics is enjoying yet another boom. Read more - The American Ceramic Society, 1990 and Ceramic Studio of Prague, 2007
More Ceramic History sites to visit:
Most excellent site for an overview of ceramics and history:
copyright 2005- 2018 - Connie Speer. All rights reserved except as noted above.
Edgefield, South Carolina – Old Edgefield Pottery
South Carolina is known for having three unique folk-art traditions: Sweetgrass basketry, Catawba pottery, and Edgefield pottery. 1 These historically-significant crafts are not commonly found in any other place. A recent trip to the Town of Edgefield introduced us to the latter of these art forms.
For more than 200 years, the Edgefield area of South Carolina has been known for its production of a specific type of pottery called "stoneware." Strong and non-porous, stoneware is usually glazed and fired in a kiln at very high temperatures. The resulting product can be very large – up to 40 gallons! – and has the potential to last for centuries.
Remnants of even earlier pottery have been found in several places around South Carolina. As many as 4,500 years ago, Native Americans created earthenware using the rich, red clay found throughout our state. Rather than turned on a wheel as modern vessels are, these hand-shaped pots were left unglazed and fired at lower temperatures. As a result, earthenware was not nearly as durable as stoneware and could not hold water. Still, the Catawba are well known to this day for having employed this essential method for food preparation and storage, using the natural resources available to them. ( Catawba pottery continues to thrive in South Carolina and is "likely the oldest North American art form still in use today" 2 in the United States.)
|OLD EDGEFIELD POTTERY STUDIO||POTTER STEVE FERRELL||OLD EDGEFIELD POTTERY|
Edgefield was not the first place in the the country to produce stoneware commercially. It is, however, thought to be the first place in the Southeast to produce it successfully. In the early 1800s, the Landrum family settled in what was then called Edgefield District – now Edgefield County. The Landrums, like many others in the area, owned slaves who helped run their plantations and businesses. In 1810 Dr. Abner Landrum built an entire community around the slave production of stoneware pottery, sometimes referred to as Landrumville, but more often as Pottersville.
Pottersville residents made use of the abundant red clay and kaolin deposits in the region. Kaolin was (and still is) used for a number of practical purposes, such as Kaopectate®, toothpaste, and paint pigment. In stoneware pottery, this brilliant white clay allowed for the addition of decorative elements to the red-clay pots and jars. Edgefield District potters made beautiful use of the kaolin, sand, pine, and feldspars naturally available to them. While not entirely unique to the area, these elements were essential to Edgefield's pottery production.
Pottersville quickly grew to a village of approximately 150 and soon earned a reputation for producing inexpensive, sturdy, and beautiful stoneware. By the 1840s, numerous families had begun similar operations and Edgefield gained greater renown for its pottery. Slave labor was still heavily relied upon, and a handful of skilled artisans stood out among them.
One slave in particular has become a familiar name among historians. "Dave the Potter," as he is commonly known, was born around 1800 and may have lost one of his legs in a train accident, making him unfit for field-work. He was among the relatively few literate slaves of his time, perhaps having been taught to read by his first owner, Harry Drake. Although it was frowned upon to educate slaves for fear that literacy would spark free will and potential uprising, many owners taught their slaves to read so they could study the Bible. Dave's literacy allowed him to mark many of his pots with a signature and date, or more rarely, a rhyming couplet or short poem.
There is also speculation that Dave was paired with another slave laborer named Henry. The story goes that Henry was missing both of his arms, and while Henry used his feet to turn the wheel, Dave's tremendous strength allowed him to produce jars and pots of exceptional size. The resulting pots were not only beautifully crafted, they also offer a timeline which has allowed historians to trace Dave's movement between stoneware manufacturers and solidify many of the theories surrounding the history of southern pottery. Examples of Dave's poetry are as follows:
Today, this remarkable tradition has been brought back to life by Old Edgefield Pottery's Old Edgefield Pottery's resident artist, Stephen Ferrell Stephen Ferrell. With each rotation of his wheel, Steve gently pulls a vessel from the mound of clay before him. His work, like that of innumerable craftspeople of the past, is characteristic of Edgefield County. Its ovoid shape and sturdy, yet delicate lip will dry to a leather-hard stage, at which point he will embellish it with a brilliantly white kaolin slip and a rich, celadon glaze to bring further luminosity to the pot's surface design. Once fired, the vessel will harden to virtually indestructable stoneware that, like Dave's, can be enjoyed for centuries to come.
1. Thanks to Stephen Ferrell for providing information and guidance on SC folk art traditions.
The Pottery Place
Construction has begun on the original structure, to house the Minnesota Stoneware Company’s production.
Building Construction Completed
Production begins on a variety of stoneware products.
A fire erupts burning the building down to the foundations. Although the exact cause is unkown, it is believed that a newly installed gas kiln could be the cause of the fire.
Building Completely Rebuilt
The demand for the stoneware products produced in The Pottery Place building was so high, that the rebuild of the enormous 4 story building was completed in just 4 months.
Tunnel Kiln Built
The tunnel kiln was built and was the longest kiln in the USA at the time.
The name officially changed to Red Wing Pottery.
Stoneware Production Closed
As available materials changed, and households and businesses now turned to plastic containers and large metal vats, the demand for stoneware containers decreased – and the stoneware line produced at The Pottery Place closed down. They still were producing pottery, but instead focused on dinnerware items that were still commonly used in households.
Red Wing Pottery Goes on Strike
Over labor issues, the Red Wing Pottery workers go on strike. And although there were talks of a resolution, the plant eventually just shut down completely. Ending the production of Red Wing Pottery produced at The Pottery Place.
Building Sat Vacant
During this period the building sat largely vacant, although it was used by various people (it is unsure whether or not they were authorized to do so) to store grain, boats, and a variety of other things.
The Building Gets a New Life
The building was renovated and brought up to modern safety codes, bringing new life into this historic building. It housed outlet stores, restaurants, offices, apartments, and retail shops.
A Change in Ownership
The building was purchased by new owners, the outlet stores were closed down but the restaurants, other retail stores, offices and apartments remained. Soon after additional apartments were added and the vision for the historic space became fully realized as a complete and charming experience.
The Pottery Place Experience
The Pottery Place is operating as a treasured experience here in Red Wing, MN. When visiting our lovely town, known for it’s history, beauty, and charm – visitors make the Pottery Place there must see stop! History, food, shopping, lodging, (and there’s even some working going on in the offices housed here). This is one place you won’t want to miss!
Here, we look back at our 200 year long history.
From the beginning…William Bourne, a local potter, visited the seam of clay behind the Denby factory in 1809 and instantly recognized its qualities. It was then that William gave his youngest son, Joseph the task of running the pottery. Known as ‘Joseph Bourne’ the pottery was soon popular for producing the best bottles and jars. As glass was so expensive in the early 19 th century, stoneware bottles and jars were a household essential and were used for holding anything from medicines to ink and mineral water.
After Joseph’s death in 1860, his only son, Joseph Harvey Bourne, took over the running of the pottery. Sadly, Joseph Harvey had little time to prove he was a worthy successor as he died just 9 years after his father. For the next 30 years the pottery was managed by Joseph Harvey’s widow, Sarah Elizabeth Bourne. Sarah was passionate about developing new designs and glazes and helped to create many colored glazes which were used on decorated artware.
Sarah Elizabeth didn’t have any children to inherit Denby and therefore control of the pottery was passed over to her two nephews after her death in 1898. Sarah’s own nephew withdrew from the business in 1907, leaving her husband’s nephew, the third ‘Joseph’ – Joseph Bourne Wheeler as the sole proprietor. In 1916 the business was formed into a limited liability company with Mr. Bourne Wheeler as Governing Director.
Denby designs through the eras…Years later as glass became less expensive, our focus turned to producing kitchenware and artware. In the 1930s, sculptor Donald Gilbert used new firing techniques to create beautiful new ranges including ‘Cottage Blue’ and ‘Manor Green’ – both designs became classics and remained in production for the next 50 years. Gilbert was also the designer behind our characterful animal figurines that are cherished by Denby collectors today.
During the Second World War, we were unable to use colored glaze stains due to manufacturing restrictions, so we turned our hand to making telegraphic insulators and battery jars to help the War effort. We also created a ceramic collection called ‘Utility Brown’ which included pieces designed specifically for the armed forces such as NAAFI teapots and large bottles to hold sailors’ rum rations.
After the War, we were able to continue our work with striking glazes and hand-painted designs. With quality and craftsmanship in every piece, we launched new collections including ‘Greenwheat’ and impressively decorated ranges such as ‘Glynnware’ which was designed by Albert College and reflected the mood of this new age.
In the 1950s and ‘60s, Denby designers, Kenneth Clarke designed our ‘Classic Giftware’ collection and Gill Pemberton launched iconic ranges including ‘Chevron’, which was the inspiration behind our 2016 Natural Canvas pattern, and ‘Arabesque’, which remains a highly collected tableware design today. With its bold seventies look, ‘Arabesque’ was
beautiful and could also be used as ‘oven-to-tableware’. This new concept, which is an important part of Denbyware today, meant that users didn’t need to transfer food from cooking pots and pans. Instead they could cook and serve food using the same tableware. Today we have a dedicated range of oven-to-tableware pieces which feature our stunning glazes including Halo , Natural Canvas and Heritage .
Today…We continue to combine beauty and function by designing ranges that work for every occasion from Tuesday tea time to weekend dinner parties. Truly styled by life, Denby can be used all around the home with every piece designed with versatility in mind.
It takes a wide team to craft our collections, from our extraordinary designers to the craftspeople who utilize our 200 years of experience to make beautiful and timeless ceramics in our Derbyshire, England factory using locally sourced clay.
We launch new ranges and products every season to sit alongside our best-sellers. As well as full collections for when you’re having a complete re-design or are starting out, we also have smaller capsule ranges and one-off pieces that can help to refresh and add interest to your existing tableware. Natural Denim and Studio Blue are our latest designs which have an artisan feel alongside all of the quality features of Denby. We have also reintroduced hand-crafting skills and techniques to create our Hand-decorated Mug collection which enables us to preserve ceramic skills in the pottery industry. Every mug is hand-decorated making it entirely unique.
So, there you have it, the brief history of British Denby Pottery. As well as on our website, you can find Denby in certain US stores, find more information here.
Case study | Pottery – Evolution and significance
Pottery or ceramics or ceramic art refers to the creation of objects that are made up of hard brittle material produced from non-metallic minerals by moulding them while the material is wet and then firing them at high temperatures. They are often made up of clay, porcelain, steatite, etc.
Pottery plays an important role in studying culture and reconstructing the past. Historically with distinct culture, the style of pottery changed. It reflects the social, economic and environmental conditions a culture thrived in, which helps the archaeologists and historians in understanding our past. It holds significant value in understanding cultures where script was either absent or remains undeciphered. Understanding of presence of fire, cooking, storage, sedentary or migratory populace, social stratification can all be developed via studying pottery.
For people, pottery provided opportunity to store, cook, transport, trade and essentially became an expression of artistic creativity.
Pottery is majorly of two types
Handmade pottery is rather a primitive style pottery developed in early ages which with time transforms to wheel thrown. The different motifs drawn on the surface plays an important role in understanding a culture and its beliefs.
Evolution of Pottery
I. Neolithic Age
We find the first reference of pottery in this age. Naturally it is hand-made pottery but during the later period footwheel is also used.
- Unglazed/unburnished that is having rough surface
- Handmade coarse grey pottery
- Material – clay mixed with mica and sand
- Pottery is devoid of any painting
- In many cases twisted rice husk cords were impressed into wet clay for decoration
- Found throughout India including the South. Burzahom – coarse grey pottery
- Included black-burnished ware, greyware and mat-pressed ware
II. Chalcolithic Age
Chalcolithic Era, the first metal age, is marked by the occurrence of distinct cultures in various parts of our country namely – Ahar culture in South Eastern Rajasthan, Malwa culture in Western MP, Jorwe culture in Western Maharashtra, etc.
People of this age used different kinds of pottery.
1. Black-and-red-ware Pottery
Black and red ware seems to have been widely used. Cultures like Ahar-Banas showed the presence of Black and Red ware pottery with white linear designs.
2. Black-on-red ware
Jorwe ware is painted black-on-red and has a matt surface treated with a wash.
3. Ochre Coloured Pottery (OCP)
OCP people are regarded as the junior contemporaries of Harappa.
This pottery is identified with the Copper Hoard Culture that was found in upper Ganga Valley and Ganga Yamuna doab area.
- The colour of the pottery ranges from orange to red.
- The period covered by the OCP culture is roughly placed between 2000 BC and 1500 BC.
- Major sites are – Jodhpura (Rajasthan), Attranjikhera (UP)
- Ganeshwar, located near Khetri copper mines, was initially believed to have OCP but researches have confuted this.
III. Harappan Civilization
Polished Ware Pottery with rough surface
- Both polished and unpolished type of pottery existed
- Pottery generally has a red surface and is wheel thrown although handmade ones too exist
- Polished wares were well fired.
- Most of the pottery is polychrome meaning more than two colours are used to colour the pottery.
- Most of the pottery is utilitarian. Such potteries usually have flat bases
- Geometrical design along with paintings depicting flora and fauna are observed
- Perforated pottery was also found may be used for straining liquor.
- Pottery throughout the civilization was uniform (mass thrown) revealing some form of control and leaving less space of individual creativity
- Presence of luxurious pottery obtained from certain sites reveals economic stratification in the society
1. Mature Harappa
Burial Pottery of Harappa
- Burnished and painted pottery
- Burial pottery was specially and distinctly made
- Reveals the Harappan belief in life after death
- Presence or absence of this pottery in the grave goods reflected social stratification
2. Late Harappa
Ochre Colored Pottery (OCP) – As we know the late Harappan cultures(1900BC – 1200BC) were primarily chalcolithic. Some specific chalcolithic sites show the elements of late Harappan(like use of burnt bricks, etc). These sites have OCP.
Black-grey burnished ware produced on slow wheel – Found in Swat Valley. This resembles the pottery from north Iranian plateau.
Black-on-red painted and wheel turned pottery – Also found in Swat Valley. This shows a connection that Swat Valley was associated with Harappa.
Grey-ware and Painted Grey Ware, generally associated with Vedic people have been found in conjunction with some late Harappan pottery. It has less intricate designs as compared to the early and mature periods suggesting a dilution of the rich culture.
IV. Vedic Era – PGW
The Vedic Era saw the emergence of Painted Grey Ware(PGW) Culture.
The Rig Vedic sites have PGW but iron objects and cereals are absent. Hence it is considered a pre-iron phase of PGW. On the other hand, the Later Vedic sites are considered iron-phase of PGW.
This pottery is an Iron Age pottery found in Gangetic plain and Ghaggar – Hakra valley, lasting from roughly 1200 BC – 600 BC. Mathura was the largest PGW site.
- Characterized by a style of fine, grey pottery painted with geometric patterns in black.
- Are confined to few geographical locations, namely – Punjab, Haryana and upperGanga Valley. This culture is associated with village and town settlements (but without large cities)
V. Later Vedic Era – NBPW
The later Vedic people were acquainted with 4 types of pottery – Black-and-red ware, black-slipped ware, painted grey ware and red ware.
VI. End of Later Vedic Era – NBPW
Towards the very end of Later Vedic Age around 6th century BC, we see the emergence of 2nd phase of urbanization(1st being Indus Valley Civilization). This era marked the beginning of the Northern Black Polished Ware (NBPW).
Map showing areas where NBPW pottery was found
- Glossy, shining type pottery.
- Made of fine fabric and served as tableware for richer class. Considered deluxe pottery only found with the elites revealing societal stratification which was a result of Brahmanical hegemony.
- This pottery continued to exist during the Mahajanapada era.
- Found in Ahichatra, Hastinapur (both in UP), Navdatoli (Madhya Pradesh)
- Classified into two groups – bichrome and monochrome
- Monochrome pottery has a fine and thin fabric. Potted on fast wheel and have a strikingly lustrous surface. 90% of this type is jet black, brownish black and bluish black and 10% have colours like pink, golden, brown among others.
- Bichrome pottery is found less. It shows all the features of monochrome except that it shows combination of two colours.
A Bichrome pottery with two colours
VI. Megalithic Era
This culture is placed between- 3rd Century BC to 1 st Century AD. Megaliths refers to monuments constructed of big (mega) stones (lith). This culture is particularly known for its large stone graves. In the South this age is characterized by the use of iron.
The forms of ancient Egyptian potterywere numerous. Vases were made principally for practical use and not for ornament although the decoration in some of them is remarkable. The amphora, in Egypt as in all ancient countries was the most common and most useful vase, was made in all sizes, from the three-inch oil or perfume container to the immense jar of three or four feet in height, for holding water, wine, oil, or grain.
Pottery provides a secure support for dating of all archaeological finds. The studies of their dating shed light on the proper period produced as well as the cultural affiliations and economic aspects around them. People start creating pottery vessels very early in time In order to have something were to keep wheat products and grains in them so it wouldn’t get wet and go moldy. Pottery was used for utilitarian tasks such as cooking, storage, and shipping. In Egypt artisan produced interesting shapes ceramic figures, vessels, and even sarcophagi which were very much a part of ancient Egyptian funerary practices.
The earliest Egyptian pottery already had geometric designs on it. The Egyptians made two kinds of pottery:
– The ordinary made soft pottery.
– The coarse, gritty compound, lacking cohesion, sandy, easily crumbled, very white, but always covered with a strong glaze or enamel.
The purpose of the ancient ceramic in Egypt as well as the one of their contemporaries cover domestic use, funerary, festival, and ritual contexts. Egypt produced several varieties of unglazed pottery. The most common pottery was the ordinary red, cream-colored, and the yellow ones. The art of covering pottery with enamel was invented by the Egyptians at a very early date. They applied it to stone as well as to pottery. Enameled pottery was also used for inlaying purposes in ornamental work.
Ceramic material allow be interpreted in its wider socio-economic context. The studies about this pottery derived from analyzing many sites in Egypt from the Delta in the north to Elephantine in the south, and covering a chronological range from the Old Kingdom to the Coptic period.
The pottery with funerary purpose made in Egypt show a large numbers of smaller enameled potteries which were deposited with the dead they are very well preserved and provide very important information. The most common founded were those now called Osirian figures, usually representing mummies. They are found both unglazed and enameled, in red pottery and in with a hard, gritty pottery.
The pottery that corresponds with the pre dynastic Egypt was often of a surprisingly fine quality. The so called “Badarian” period pottery was made without the use of a potter’s wheel, and it was usually the woman who elaborated the pottery. These beautiful pieces were burnished to a lustrous finish. They were probably fired in either open bonfires or very primitive kilns, but remain some of the most astonishing pottery ever produced in Egypt.
From the Naqada period (4,000 – 3,000 BC) until the dynastic period, paintings without guides, repetitive templates or fixed concepts were added to the pottery freely. Animal’s figures, patterns, boats and human figures were depicted.
The potter’s wheel in Egypt was invented in the Old Kingdom. At first this device was a simple turntable, but later evolved into a true potter’s wheel, requiring better preparation of the clay and more control during firing. These potter’s wheels were still hand turned. With the potter’s wheel more refined kilns were constructed, this new technique allowed pottery to be made in more abundance, but did not entirely replace all other forms of pottery making. For example, bread moulds continued to be handmade around a core known as a “Patrix”.
After the pottery was formed, either by a potter’s wheel or more primitive means, it would have been left to thoroughly dry. If the surface was to be burnished, after drying the pottery would have been polished with pebbles and then painted or perhaps engraved and finally fired, probably in a not confined place during pre dynastic times, until the development of kilns.
Egyptian pottery can be divided into two broad categories dependent on the
Type of clay that was used.
– The pottery made with Nile clay, and known as Nile silt ware. This potter after being fired, it has a red-brown color, been used for common, utilitarian purposes, though at times it might have been decorated or painted. Blue painted pottery was somewhat common during the New Kingdom (1,550-1,069 BC).
– The pottery made from ‘marl clay’. This type of pottery was usually thought superior to the common Nile mud pottery, often used for decorations and other functions. Was often burnished, leaving a shiny glaze like surface although it was not a truly glace process.
Shaping Methods of Pottery Use in Egypt
– Hand-shaping pottery and finished with a turning device.
Hand-shaping methods of pottery use in Egypt
1) Forming a single piece of clay by the use of free-hand shaping,
2) Shaping with a paddle and anvil,
3) Shaping on a core or over a hump,
5) Building with a slab or coil.
It can be said in a summary that the pottery production in ancient Egypt was a significant industry that produces a variety of goods that serve well to resolve the basic needs presented to this culture of counting with appropriate containers for liquids and solids. For us today these potteries are serving another different purpose but not less important because they are providing us with a wide range of answers to multiples questions still unresolved about this ancient civilization history, their religious dogmas and their social life.
Art Pottery in Edgerton: History and Resources
What is Art Pottery?
Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement in Britain, American art potters approached ceramics as an art form. They experimented with a variety of new glazes and decorative techniques and focused on creating vases and other ornamental wares instead of utilitarian pieces like cups and plates. There is no single style of American art pottery, but some well-known examples include Rookwood’s elegant painted landscapes, Teco’s dramatic forms, and the Paul Revere Pottery’s charming illustrations.
The Art Pottery of Pauline Jacobus
Pauline Jacobus established the Pauline Pottery in Chicago in 1883 and relocated the company to Edgerton in 1888. In creating her art pottery wares, Jacobus incorporated the forms and decorative techniques of some of the most influential potteries and ceramic designers of her time. Pauline wares were made using molds, some of which–like the long-necked pitchers and the globular vases–were similar to forms used by the Rookwood Pottery of Cincinnati, where Jacobus took classes before beginning to work in art pottery. The majority of the Pauline wares are decorated with hand-painted underglaze–paints applied with brushes after a first firing, then coated with a clear glaze and fired a second time. The most common motif–a variety of flowers in solid colors, outlined in black–is reminiscent of the work of John Bennett, a widely admired decorator for the Doulton Pottery of London who relocated to New York City in 1877. Other Pauline works show the influence of Laura Fry, a decorator for Rookwood who worked briefly with Jacobus in Chicago–including carving and gilding as well as the use of Fry’s own invention, an atomizer (airbrush), to create spattered backgrounds or smooth glaze transitions.
Timeline: Edgerton’s Art Potteries
The success of the Pauline Pottery, combined with the area’s high-quality clay beds, attracted a number of ceramic artists to Edgerton. Between 1888 and 1909, the community was home to six successful pottery companies.
The Weller Pottery was the first mass producer of art pottery. Samuel Weller was known for hiring great artists, and for his innovations. However, he also produced many so-called “mutant” pots – strange glazes and odd glazes for a given pot type.
At the March 2001 WPA meeting Chris Swart gave a wonderful presentation on Weller Art Pottery. Chris also organized our 2001 Show and Sale Exhibit on Weller and Company.
The following article appeared the WPA Press, Vol. 8, April 2001
By Kari Kenefick
The Weller Pottery was the first mass producer of art pottery. Samuel Weller was known for hiring great artists, and for his innovations. However, he also produced many so-called “mutant” pots – strange glazes and odd glazes for a given pot type.
Weller was not known for excellence in quality control. This article contains material from Chris Swart’s March presentation, as well as a few tidbits from other pottery references as listed following this article.
Samuel Augustus Weller was born on April 12, 1851 in Ohio. In 1872, the 21 year old Weller, a resident of Muskingum County, established the Weller pottery in a log cabin in Fultonham, Ohio (near Zanesville), complete with a beehive kiln. As business boomed he moved to Zanesville and built a new factory on the banks of the Muskingum River.
Weller was followed in his move to the river banks by many other potteries that went on to become household names, such as Roseville, J.B.Owens, McCoy, Watt, Hull, Brush and Robinson Ransbottom. The Weller pottery continued, as did many others, in this general location until 1931 when the Depression forced consolidations and down-sizing.
Sam Weller traveled to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago where he was so taken with the work of the Lonhuda Pottery of Steubenville, Ohio, that he offered to purchase the pottery from William Long. The following year Long sold his pottery to Weller and became a designer for Weller. Lonhuda pottery was continued by Weller’s firm and the incorporation of this product into the Weller pottery family is credited with launching Weller into the art pottery market.
Long’s tenure at the Weller pottery was short he left in 1896. At approximately this time Louise Weller was born and the Lonhuda pottery line became Louwelsa. As with the Lonhuda pottery, Louwelsa featured a high gloss over beautifully painted flowers and background colors of blues, reds and greens, often in a gradient of light, bright color to very dark colors.
Weller pottery lines that immediately followed Louwelsa included: i) Dickensware in 1897, which was very similar to Louwelsa except that the background color was solid versus the gradient ii) Eocean, first produced in 1898 through the 1920s, featured again the background gradient with colors of gray or olive green to ivory. Eocean Rose had a rosey tint over the ivory iii)
Turada was developed by Henry Schmidt in 1897, as the first squeezebag pottery line in the Ohio valley (Tyrano was a similar and competing product produced by Owens Pottery in 1898) iv) Dickensware II (1890) was developed by Charles Upjohn, who headed the Weller decorating department from 1895-1904.
Many other pottery lines were developed at Weller, by an impressive number of talented pottery designers, whose names are too numerous to mention here. However, readers might appreciate the dates of a few standout potters in the Weller arena, including the fact that Jacques Sicard and an assistant were enticed to travel from France to Zanesville, OH, to produce glazes for Sam Weller’s pottery.
It is recorded that Sicard arrived in Ohio around 1900, although his Sicardo line was little known until it’s exposure at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. Pieces made by Sicard featured his characteristic iridescent metallic finish and were often signed Sicard on the side of the vase. The Sicardo pottery was well received at the World’s Fair and even before that was selected by Tiffany’s as one of their product lines (1903). But Sam Weller felt that the glaze was too expensive and attempted to get the recipe from Sicard’s previous employer in France. When asked to pay for the recipe Weller refused.
Sicard left for France in 1907. It is estimated that Weller spent $50,000 on the Sicard/Sicardo venture, one in which only an estimated 30% of the ware came through the complicated firing and finishing process in marketable form.
Another iridescent ware potter, John Lessel went to work for Sam Weller in 1920. Lessel had been influenced by Owensart Opalesce, J.B. Owen’s answer to Weller’s Sicardo line. The Opalesce line was introduced in 1905 but soon disappeared. Lessel had already worked producing pieces with a plain yet metallic surface in 1903–04 for Arcen Ciel in Zanesville, OH.
The Lasa line that Lessel produced for Weller very closely mimics one of the opalescent lines of Owens’. Lessel was responsible for several of Weller’s most popular pottery lines, Lasa being the best known.
As stated by Chris during his presentation, Weller was the largest producer of art pottery in the world by 1905. Sam Weller developed a reputation for hiring the best, most creative designers, but also for attempting to steal their secrets.
In 1925 Sam Weller died at age 74. His nephew Harry Weller took over as president of the company, introducing the continuous kiln process, and consolidating the multiple plants in 1931, due to the Depression.
Harry Weller died in an automobile crash in 1932. During the years 1930–32 the last freehand decorated lines were introduced at Weller. These included Stellar, Geode, Cretone, Raceme, and Bonito.
In addition to notes from Chris Swart’s presentation, the following references were used for this article: Nelson, Marion (1988) Art Pottery of the Midwest.
Sigafoose, Dick (1998) American Art Pottery.
Chris Swart used All About Weller (1989) by Ann Gilbert McDonald, Art Pottery of the Midwest (1988) by Marion Nelson, and Art Pottery of the United States (1987) by Paul Evans to prepare his talk and the Weller timeline.
WPA members brought in some of their collection to give a preview of the Wisconsin Pottery Association’s 2001 show Weller & Company.
April 12, 1851–Samuel Augustus Weller born in Ohio
1872 –Operates a one-man pottery in Fultonham, near Zanesville in Muskeegum County, Ohio
1882-1890 –Expansion to Zanesville, followed by building, buy-outs until 1931 when the Depression forces consolidation and down-sizing
1893-1896–William Long’s Lonhuda ware, Louise Weller and Louwelsa born, 1896
1897–Henry Schmidt develops Weller Turada, the first squeezebag pottery line in the Ohio valley, Owens Pottery introduces similar Cyrano line in 1898
1895-1904–Charles Upjohn heads Weller decorating department, develops Dickensware II in 1900
1902-1907–Jacques Sicard at Weller, Sicard line appears in the fall of 1903 (Clement Massier Reflets Metalliques by 1889)
1902-1905–Weller becomes world’s largest pottery and maker of mass produced Art Pottery
1903-1904–Frederick Hurton Rhead at Weller, develops Jap Birdimal line in 1904, becomes Roseville’s first art director in 1904, leaves Roseville in 1908
1904–Weller has huge display at the St. Louis Exposition
1908–Rudolph Lorber develops Dechiwo, 1908, which leads to Burntwood, Claywood, and others
1917–Weller Hudson family introduced
1916-1929–Rudolph Lorbor develops Brighton birds, Muskota, Woodcraft, Forest, Glendale and other great naturalistic lines, ending with Coppertone, 1929. Dorothy England Laughead creates Silvertone, Chase, and the Garden Animals
1920-1924–John Lessell heads the decorating department, develops luster glaze lines including LaSa, Marengo, Cloudburst, Lamar, others
July 1, 1922–Weller Pottery incorporated as “S.A. Weller, Inc.”
October 4, 1925 –Samuel Augustus Weller dies
1925-1932–Nephew Harry Weller takes over as president, introduces continuous kiln, consolidates plants in 1931 due to Depression, dies in auto crash in 1932
1930-1932–Last freehand decorated lines introduced at Weller: Stellar, Geode, Cretone, Raceme, Bonito
1932-1937–Frederic Grant, son-in-law, is president for one year, divorced from Ethel (Weller, b. 1898) Irvin Smith, another son-in-law (Louise) is president from 1933-1937
1935–Freehand decoration ends at Weller
1935-1948–Weller produces simplified embossed lines
1937-1948–Walter Hughes, a ceramic engineer and former employee at American Encaustic Tiling Company is Weller’s last president
1947-1948–Essex Wire Corporation buys controlling share in Weller, closes the pottery in 1948
1954–Minnie Weller dies at age 92, Weller house contents are auctioned
Related Sites: (These sites will open up in a new window)
Weller History – An article about Weller Pottery at Collectics.com .
Pottery Studio – A history article with links to some examples. Interesting link to information on Charlotte Rhead, the sister of Frederich H. Rhead a designer at Weller.