Flower Pot and TrayMade in Westtown, Pennsylvania, United States, North and Central America
Enos Smedley, American, 1805 - 1892
Redware, lead glaze, white slip (for sgraffito decoration), copper oxide, manganese
1908-198,aGift of John T. Morris, 1908
This flower pot and tray was made from high-quality clay found under the wet topsoil of Pennsylvania's low-lying plains. Southeastern Pennsylvania's terrain could support farms on the topsoil and potteries on the subsoil, so by 1810 potteries could be found in almost every township in Buck's County.
The work of the potter fit into the agricultural calendar. The clay was dug in the fall: topsoil was cleared and a foot-deep layer of clay was sliced and shoveled into a wagon, hauled to the pottery, and stacked. Before freezing weather, the clay was carried in baskets and dumped into a mill - a round tub with a revolving post set with blades. A horse harnessed to a sweep walked slowly around the tub, turning the blades. Water was flushed through to clean the clay and the resulting mass of plastic earth turned gray to yellow. The clay was then shaped into one hundred pound blocks and stored in a cellar where it was kept moist but would not freeze.
Colorful slip (an opaque glaze) and sgraffito (incised) ornamented the ceramic wares, such as this one, and were the presentation pieces of the rural potter. White slip was applied to the surface when the ware was damp, and the foliage and inscription are sgraffito, which is a technique highly developed by Pennsylvania potters. Outlines and solid areas were scratched through a coating of slip to reveal the red underbody, which then shone red through the glaze. Copper oxide and manganese daubed on before glazing created the green and black-brown accents.
Inscription: Mary Ann Seeds Westtown, 5th mo. 22n 1826
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