Pottery is one of the most
enduring materials known to humankind. In most places it is the oldest and most
widespread art; primitive peoples the world over have fashioned pots and bowls
of baked clay for their daily use. Pottery is the oldest, the longest, the most
widely diffused of human arts. Its recorded history begins with the building of
Babel ; and great cities in all ages, notably all great American cities, are
vast structures of pottery. Every people, civilized and barbarian, has practiced
the art in one or another form.
A pot is a vessel intended to hold something. A potter is a man who makes
pots of clay or rocky materials, which are afterwards either sun-dried or
fire-baked. Pottery means all that is made by the potter, the term being
extended to include not only all kinds of pots, but even such things as
ornaments, flat plaques, statuettes, or bas-reliefs. The term pottery is often
used in a restricted sense, and applied only to common earthenware or crockery,
and sometimes to crockery and fine earthenware together.
Pottery comprises three
major types of wares: earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain. Pottery clay
is the clay used to make the three categories of pottery. Clay is baked in a
kiln under intense heat, a process known as firing, and becomes solid. Firing is
used both to harden the clay and to adhere glaze to it or color it.
The first type of pottery, earthenware, has been manufactured using the same
basic techniques since ancient times. Earthenware is basically composed of clay
or a blend of clays that are baked firm. Because it is fired at low heat, the
pottery clay retains its porous nature and does not become translucent.
Earthen wares are porous and therefore not as strong as stone wares. Earthenware
can be glazed, but it will never be as hard as stoneware-glazed surface. An
earthenware-glazed dish will scratch or chip more easily than the harder surface
of stoneware. Faience, delft, and majolica are all types of earthenware clays.
The second type of pottery, called Stoneware
is generally a mixture of other clays. It is relatively rich
in vitreous material and has a high degree of plasticity, so it is very easy to
manipulate. Stoneware is fired at so high a temperature (about 2185 degrees
Fahrenheit) that it becomes as hard as stone and non-porous. In essence, it is
man-made stone. Stoneware is
extremely strong and will not absorb water. Because stoneware is nonporous, it
does not require a glaze; when a glaze is used, it serves a purely decorative
function. Stoneware dishes can
be used in conventional and microwave ovens.
Porcelain, also called china, was invented by the Chinese and consists of feldspathic
material incorporated in a stoneware composition. This pottery is actually made
with a mixture of several other types of clay and minerals. It is generally
composed of kaolin, ball clay, feldspar and flint. Porcelain is a very hard white
ceramic which has been manufactured in China since the 600s, and in Europe since
the 1700s. Porcelain is fired using very high heat,
resulting in a white, nonporous pottery. Porcelain is translucent;
stoneware and earthenware is not.
History of Pottery
Pottery of the Ancient Mediterranean: By 1500 B.C. the use of glazes
was known in Egypt. In Assyria and Neo-Babylonia, painted and glazed bricks were
in common use. The Ishtar gate in Babylon, with its ceramic reliefs, is an early
example of the majolica technique. The Greek vases are famous for symmetry of
form and beauty of decoration. Of the Greco-Roman wares, the Arretine or Samian,
was molded after first being turned on the wheel to the size of the mold, which
carried the decoration in intaglio.
Pottery of Asia: Painted pottery of the Neolithic period has been found
in China. By the 2d cent. B.C. the Early Han period had developed a green glaze
which may have come from the Middle East. In the Sui period and the T’ang
period, porcelain began to be made and exported to Korea and Japan and to the
Pottery of Europe: In Europe there was little pottery of great
aesthetic importance before the 15th cent., except perhaps some German
stonewares. Majolica was mainly developed in Italy and from there spread to
Spain, France, and to Holland. Majolica and stoneware were the main pottery
forms in Europe until the advent of porcelain.
Pottery of the Americas: Prehistoric pottery found in Peru, Mexico, and
the SW United States reveals a high degree of skill in color, form, and
decorative motifs. Baked-clay work by colonists in North America began in 1612
with the making of bricks and tiles in Virginia and Pennsylvania. In these
states and among the Dutch settlers of New York, potteries were soon
established. The first whiteware was made in 1684. A stoneware factory was
opened in New York in 1735, and c.1750 the Jugtown pottery of North Carolina was
first produced. Terra-cotta works were operating in Massachusetts and
Pennsylvania after the middle of the 18th cent. Palatinate refugees produced
slip-decorated and graffito earthenware, and their product formed the foundation
of Shenandoah pottery.
Modern Pottery: American art pottery flourished in the first half of the
20th cent., with works created by a variety of artisans. Many of the major
artists of the 20th cent. created exquisite ceramic works. Especially notable
are those by Picasso, Matisse, and Miró. In spite of the continuing development
of mass-production techniques and synthetic materials, the demand for
hand-crafted ware of fine quality has not diminished. A variety of artisans make
utilitarian objects as well as works of art using many methods of pottery
We are proud to carry beautiful
handmade pottery made by artisans in Boleslawiec, Poland. Polish pottery line is classified as high-density stoneware.
Each item is made using white clay decorated with lead-free glazes. Our handmade
stoneware dinnerware is lead-free, dishwasher, oven and microwave safe. There is an abundance of hand painted patterns to choose from.
Please see available items
and patterns on the right.