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Home > History of American Pottery


















The History of American Pottery

From baked-clay work to ceramic fine art.

Iris Ceramic Pottery Certainly, the beautiful pottery of Native Americans far pre-dates that of the American colonists, but early European settlers wasted little time in establishing potteries when they arrived in new land. As early as 1612, baked-clay work was being undertaken by the colonists. It was primarily the Dutch who began the history of North American pottery. The first whiteware appeared in 1684, and in 1735, a stoneware works was established in New York. The famous Jugtown Pottery was born in the mid-18th century in North Carolina. In addition to this, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania set up terra cotta factories and the earthenware of Shenandoah came to be.

The first fine china created in America dates circa 1769, in Philadelphia. By the 1840's, East Liverpool, Ohio had become one of the country's most vibrant centers of pottery production, including American Rockinghamware. Yellowware, redware, and ironstone have long been prevalent in North America and the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago can, perhaps, be cited as the catalyst to the tremendous interest Americans were to take in art pottery in the century which followed.

Both the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts movements produced numerous contributions to the gallery of 20th century art pottery. Stylized and functional pieces appealed to the decorating and homemaking tastes of Americans. The works of Matisse and Miro are, in particular, considered to be treasures of ceramic fine art and this creative legacy has been passed on to the imaginative potters of today.

Because of the astonishing array of materials available to today's potters, artists can mix and match styles, mediums, and techniques. At Emerson Creek Pottery in Virginia, traditional ceramic methods are embellished with a Japanese Sumi-e brush to create their signature line of iris ceramic pottery. This beautiful blending of east-west skills results in modern creations with old-world substance.