Art, Not Yet Lost

Art, Not Yet Lost

Edgefield Pottery, known around the country as some of the best folk art of the South, is a dying tradition. Over 4,500 years ago, Native Americans along the Savannah River discovered how to create pottery, using spanish moss, palmetto fibers and the rich clay deposits in the Edgefield area.

Eventually, this foundation was intertwined with Chinese technology, traditional English methods and African slave labor to create a unique stoneware tradition in the Old Edgefield District. Storage jugs, pitchers, and kitchen pans and utensils, all covered with a distinct “alkaline” glaze, were manufactured by five large production centers in the area. Potters soon began decorating their wares to edge past the competition; many pots had designs that were modeled after Charleston architectural touches, and some depicted everyday life scenes.

Dave the Potter, a literate slave, created his own pottery and signed and dated his wares, sometimes including simple verses. His pottery, as well as the “face” jars, of African origin, are valuable pieces and frequently sought by folk art collectors.

Old Edgefield Pottery is a working pottery studio where many of these creations can be viewed and history can be relived, as resident potter Stephen Ferrell keeps the tradition alive.

For more information, call the Old 96 District Tourism Commission at 800.849.9633.