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How American Redware Pottery is Made

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   Redware was the first type of pottery made by the European settlers in America because of the material availability and it's low firing temperature. It was a sure fit for The Workshops of David T. Smith, when David was researching pottery to accompany his furniture in the early 1980's.

   Redware, a fragile, lead-glazed earthenware style of pottery that derived it's name from it's earthy red color, vanished from the American pottery market when a more durable and lead-free, salt glazed stoneware pottery appeared on the scene in the mid 1800's. With it's fragile nature and because it was looked upon as a "poor man's pewter or dirt dish", it is surpising that so much antique Redware has survived through today. Due to these surviving examples, Turtlecreek Pottery is able to reproduce countless historical designs.

   Our pottery is handmade as it was in the 18th century. All pots are thrown by hand, and the plates are either thrown, or slabbed and draped over a wood mold as they were 200 years ago.

   Our reproduction pottery is glazed with an authentic lead glaze that provides the pottery surface the same depth of color of period pieces that are displayed at major museums throughout the country. As all Turtlecreek Pottery items are glazed with lead, they are for decorative use only.

   Our Redware Pottery is fired by one of the two following methods:
  • Electric kiln - This indoor style kiln offers a more controlled firing process. As the atmosphere in the kiln is oxidized, there is a stabilization of oxygen content. This type of clear atmosphere produces sharp, clean, and bright effects with a smooth texture to the glaze.

  • Wood-Fired kiln - This outdoor style kiln fires at different atmospheres in different parts of the firing chamber. You may have an oxidized atmosphere which is typical and unique to a wood-fired kiln. "Reduction firing" is when the oxygen content in the kiln is replaced with smoke, wood ash, and other gases from the burning of the wood being used as fuel for the kiln. The effects caused by this atmosphere can change the glaze, clay body colors, and textures. This firing process, unique to each and every firing attempt, produces truly one-of-a-kind items.
   Our wood-fired kiln has been firing on a regular basis for over 20 years. In 1985, while talking to a chair customer in Tennessee, David discovered that the gentlemen had a pile of kiln bricks that he would be willing to trade for a set of chairs. Within 6 months, and two trips to Tennessee, the wood-fired cross draft pottery kiln was designed, built, and ready to fire. Those first years required a little fine tuning, but it wasn't long until we were producing the wood-fired items that are so sought after today. Our kiln is one of the few production wood-fired kilns being fired in the United States.