Published: May 17, 2011
An exhibition of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century redware made and used in southeastern Pennsylvania will be on view at the Brandywine River Museum in “Seeing Red: Southeastern Pennsylvania Earthenware from Winterthur,” starting May 28.
During the 1700s and 1800s, red earthenware was omnipresent in southeastern Pennsylvania homes. Most consumers purchased utilitarian forms such as dishes, cooking and dairy pans, jugs, roof tiles and flowerpots. These objects †used in kitchens, dining rooms, parlors and gardens †provide a window into the lives of their creators and original owners. The special exhibition highlights objects from the region and complements the stories of regional material culture featured in Winterthur’s current exhibition, “Paint, Pattern & People: Furniture of Southeastern Pennsylvania, 1725‱850.”
Although redware pottery manufacture in Pennsylvania has often been associated with the Pennsylvania Germans, there were numerous craftspeople of English and European ancestry who also made redware objects. Despite their diverse origins, all potters crafted their wares from deposits found in the southeastern Pennsylvania region or nearby areas of Delaware and Maryland.
The potters turned hollowware items on a potter’s wheel and formed shallow dishes by draping a flat, pancakelike piece of clay over a mold. Handles and decorative elements were molded, hand modeled or extruded and then applied to the main forms. Other objects were either molded or hand modeled. Sizes varied from large churns to small pipe bowls.
Redware objects were often decorated by stamping, stenciling, scratching, incising, piercing, rouletting or slip decorating. Potters also impressed the clay with stamps, molds or roulette tools before firing. Glazes served a two-fold purpose. They added color to the object while simultaneously making the vessel impervious to liquid.
The uses of redware were as varied as the manufacturing and decorative techniques. Many of the items in the exhibition were used for preparing, serving and storing food. Numerous dishes, both plain and highly decorated, were used in open hearths, as is evidenced by darkening on their undersides. Milk pans, colanders, churns and bowls were all common items. Bottles and jars functioned as storage vessels for pickled, preserved and all kinds of foods.
The Brandywine River Museum is on US Route 1. For information, 610-388-2700 or www.brandywinemuseum.org .
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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