When you eat off a pottery plate, drink your tea from a pottery cup, and pour that tea from a pottery teapot, you are eating, drinking, and pouring from something that was once part of the soil around you. Granted, it’s a very special kind of soil, but still, that thought gives me cause for pause.
For almost 200 years, Louisville Stoneware in Kentucky, has been turning stoneware clay from western Indiana into graceful objects that help you enjoy your tea time. It’s one of the oldest makers of stonewares in the U.S., having been founded in 1815. In 2007, the company underwent a major change when the owner at the time, Christina Lee Brown, decided it was time to retire and laid off most of the employees; a few months later she sold the company to Two Stone, Inc., a group comprised of two “silent investors” and a real dynamo named Lisa Mullins who has revived the company and expanded the number of stores where the company’s products are sold.
Going strong now, the company makes a full line of wares. My interest is in their teapots, of course! They have a classic shape with long spouts that may or may not dribble. Matching mugs are also available. So are plates and other pieces. Their stoneware retains heat for keeping your tea warm and is microwave and dishwasher safe.
The colors tend to be bright and range across the visible spectrum from the shortwave purples to the longwave reds. To me, the general appearance has a definite European flair, including a Delft-ish look in the blue pieces, plus the flavor of Polish and Scandinavian color designs.
When you see those bright colors, keep in mind that the color is applied with a “glaze” and is usually not the same as when it has been “fired” in the kiln. In fact, glazes are often quite dull in color. A bit frustrating for any artist, at least at first. And one reason I don’t use gouache paints. They dry darker. The artists at Louisville Stoneware, though, are real pros, meaning they know what the color will be after firing.
Considering how long this company has been around, it’s no wonder there are plenty of older pieces for sale online. These older pieces often have a much simpler look, since they pre-date a lot of the modern methods, such as molds for more detailed pieces. This gives them a rustic charm and harkens back to the company’s (and this country’s) early days. Look for the Louisville Stoneware stamp on the bottom. Older pieces may be stamped with the company’s original name of JB Taylor Company, which was changed in 1970 when the company was sold. “Harvest” and “Vintage” are two of the oldest patterns.
Right now, I’m contemplating how that teapot in the Bachelor Button pattern will look on the shelf with the rest of my teawares. My guess is “pretty good.”
Visit their company website.
Collectible Sadler Teapots
Collectible Byrd Teawares and Pottery
Those Wonderful Amsterdam Teapots
Hemisphere Teapots — Out of This World
Trying New Teawares — Glass Teapots
Metal vs. Porcelain and Bone China Teapots
Teawares Fit for a Queen (or at least a Duchess)
“Basic Black” Teawares
Coloring Up Your Teatime
“Basic White” Teawares
Teawares Card Game
Cream Pitchers — Unsung Heroes of Tea Time
Is Your Teapot a Dribbler?
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