Stephen Earp has conducted extensive research into early American pottery. He’s visited libraries, historical societies, and museums; examined historical artifacts, photographs, drawings, and descriptions of pottery. Where sound examples of redware exist, he utilizes them as prototypes for his work. Most of his work is modeled after pottery from New England. Some forms hail from the Mid Atlantic, Appalachia, and other areas of the Eastern United States.
At Stephen Earp Redware, materials and colors are selected with an eye toward historical accuracy and local accessibility of materials, with one exception. Early American redware glazes were made with lead, but none of the materials utilized at Stephen Earp Redware contain lead.
Pottery at Stephen Earp Redware comes in two styles.
(“Brown” on the Style/Decoration option of the Order Form)
Historically, glazes from each pottery shop exhibited distinct coloration due to the geological variation of materials used in different regions. The brownware glaze utilized at Stephen Earp Redware approximates the most common type of glaze applied to redware throughout its history. This glaze is the standard finish for pottery at the shop. Unlike its historical predecessor, this glaze does not include led, nor do any of the glazes utilized at Stephen Earp Redware.
(“Norwalk” on the Style/Decoration option of the Order Form)
In the Norwalk area of southwestern Connecticut, potters produced a somewhat brighter orange pottery--due to the clay and glaze materials found in that region--often splashed with manganese, producing a dark decorative motif. Stephen Earp Redware tries to capture the feel of early New England redware by drawing inspiration from the original Norwalk pottery.
The overwhelming majority of traditional pottery from centuries past was unadorned. But decorated pottery certainly existed, and historically accurate representations and interpretations are available on the wares from Stephen Earp Redware. You’ll find scenes from nature--birds, leaves, wheat sprigs, and flowers, for example. You’ll also find sayings--witticisms, aspersions, polemics, biblical phrases, and dire warnings. The rims of plates produced in the Germanic communities of Pennsylvania during the 17th - 19th centuries are an especially rich source of written materials, as are plates produced in Norwalk, CT.
Stephen Earp Redware focuses on the two types of decoration most common to early redware: slip trailed and sgrafitto. Slip trail is liquid clay (slip) painted on pottery before it’s fired. Sgrafitto is incised decoration, decoration carved into the pottery, most often plates. The photographs in Stephen Earp Redware’s Brownware Catalogue depict plain as well as decorated items available.
Care and Use
Redware is an excellent insulator. Both cold and hot drinks hold their temperature longer in redware containers. Redware, because of its porous nature, is perfectly suited to oven baking, and it’s also a safe alternative for use in the microwave. However, it is important to avoid extreme temperature changes--such as moving a redware container directly from the freezer to the oven.
In order to be long-lasting, redware does require proper care. Wash redware with care; if treated roughly, it can chip. Though redware is dishwasher-safe, hand washing is recommended. Note too that if liquids stand in redware containers for an extended period of time, sweating occurs, and moisture rings can be left on table tops.