Handmade ceramic pottery is an ancient tradition, but you may be surprised to learn that the American-made pottery industry didn’t exist until after 1776. Under British control the Colonists were required by law to import pottery. After winning their independence, Americans were finally able to create their own pottery, and a new industry was born. Rustic pottery made in America throughout the 17th and 18th centuries is known as redware, because our iron-rich clay has a distinctive red color. Traditional hand painted pottery designs like flowers, branches, and geometric bands became popular, as well as solid glazes in white, yellow, green brown, red, and blue (famously known as American Cobalt). Handpainted pitchers, bowls and plates made in the USA have been an everyday favorite of American families for over two hundred years now.

Fast-forward to today, and American pottery is widely admired for its quality, craftsmanship and creative expression. The work of American potters is found in the Smithsonian and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, as well as many regional museums. Traditional pottery designs have remained popular, especially in the Southeast, where many folk art and craft traditions are well-preserved.

A Hand-Painted Pottery Tradition

Made entirely by hand in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the hand-painted pottery here at Laughing Moose Gifts has roots in long-standing American pottery traditions. Since 1977, our dedicated artisans have preserved traditional pottery methods to create their hand-painted, nature-inspired designs. First came the popular Field of Iris pattern, with its brushstrokes inspired by a 2000-year-old painting style known as Sumi-e. This method seeks to express the beauty of nature through simple brushstrokes against a plain background.

Painting by Gao Jianfu (1879-1951)

More tableware patterns followed over the years, with designs like Dragonfly, Lavender and Pine Cone drawn from the natural surroundings of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Pine Cone Pattern

American Cobalt Blue Pottery

Early American pottery was often decorated with hand-painted blue patterns created using cobalt-blue glaze. While these designs may have begun as Colonial imitations of high-priced Chinese porcelain, they eventually became classic examples of Americana that are still prized by collectors.

Image Courtesy of North Bayshore Antiques

Ever heard the term “Blue Plate Special”? It dates back to the 1920’s, when restaurants used blue dishes to serve the Special of the Day. Blue is still one of the most popular colors for table settings today. The solid blue glaze of our American Blue pottery was inspired by classic cobalt blue tableware.

Sustainable production methods at the pottery workshop include mixing their own clays, glazes and colors using formulas they’ve perfected over decades. Each piece is formed, glazed, painted and fired on site – made by hand from start to finish.

Functional as well as beautiful, this fine pottery is microwave and dishwasher safe, lead-safe, cadmium-safe and oven proof. To see our full collection of hand-painted, made-in-the-USA pottery, Click Here.

By Kerry Ann Dame 0 comment


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