The Pennsylvania Dutch were virtually the only people in America in Colonial days who had a strong, imaginative feeling for color and design; for creative art in their households, and even on such earthy objects as their barns, fences, wagons and weather-vanes.Our knowledge of Pennsylvania-Dutch pottery is based on museums, publications, and artifacts.
Southeastern Pennsylvania has much red shale and red clay giving the Dutch potters their opportunity, very soon after they had settled on their farms and cleared the land. It was a practical because they needed crocks, pots, baking dishes, and such, for their food manufacturing activities, also tile for roofs.Very soon the Pennsylvania-Dutch potters were making platters, crocks, jugs, and pots for utilitarian reasons.
Early history of ceramics reveals the existence of a number of small family-type enterprises (Smith, Pottery A Utilitarian Folk Craft 1).Nearly every Pennsylvania-Dutch community had its own potter.The wares were made for and by "common" folk.
Early potters created wares almost entirely from products found in their local area.
Clays were dug from local river banks.Red clay lays close to the surface and was easily dug; it could be worked with littledifficulty and fired at a low temperature.Early potters needed only simple equipment to make redware articles for theirkitchens.Redware was used primarily at the table, for its porosity rendered it less desirable for prolonged food storage. Although most redware was produced strictly for utilitarian purposes, early potters would frequently put decorative designs on their products.Horse drawn wagons carried the clay to the potters shed, where it was ground by a plug mill.The plug mill was powered by a horse.Sometimes the clay was sifted through a screen to rid it of fine stones and other foreign materials.
Artistically considered, the ornamented earthenware of the Dutch potte…