Thursday, October 13, 2022

Clay in the Hands of a Potter

By Kimberly Grist

While researching the 19th century, I became fascinated with the vocation of a potter and its importance to the local community. These talented craftsmen created functional and practical vessels, typically serving the needs of the people within 30 to 50 miles.

The techniques reflected local traditions and regional styles passed down through generations. The industry thrived on manufacturing pieces like dishes, jugs, bowls, pitchers, mugs, storage jars, candlesticks, and cream pots.

Everything needed to produce pottery was present in America- clay was abundant. Clay was dug locally either by hand or with simple machinery such as a mule-powered pugmill.

Although designed for everyday use, some chose to decorate their pottery with designs that would appeal to their customers. The below photo is a five-gallon stoneware crock circa 1880. The folk art design below shows a man with a mustache and bowler hat, wearing a buttoned coat and nickers, sitting on a tree stump.

American stoneware is a type of pottery as popular in the 19th century as the Tupperware products of today. 

The predominant housewares of the era were usually covered in a salt glaze and often decorated using cobalt oxide to produce bright blue decoration.

While the stories of potters are often unrecorded, women likely created many vessels. This fact spurred my imagination to create the character of Elly, a talented craftsman who creates American Stoneware.

A Bride for Alston
Since her parents' death, Elly Emerson handles the household and the pottery business to help support the family farm. Left out of the will Elly is faced with homelessness when her new sister-in-law makes it difficult to remain in the family home.

Alston Pike, Engineer, and Millwright believes hard work is the cure to mend a broken heart. Enticed by his grandmother's offer to fund his new project, he agrees to marry within three months.

Is Elly trading one lion's den for another?
Will Alston's business-minded approach to marriage leave him wanting more?
Connect with Kimberly:
Fans of historical romance set in the late 19th -century will enjoy stories combining, History, Humor, and Romance, emphasizing Faith, Friends, and Good Clean Fun.


  1. Thank you for posting today! I love pottery, both the simple unadorned style and the glazed. Those blue plates you showed are gorgeous!!

    1. I love pottery and hope to expand my research and take a class to learn how to create vessels. Hopefully it will go better than my attempt to be a beekeeper. (They flew the coop)