13 Jun Phoenix Factory’s Old Edgefield Pottery – History in Your Hands
The Phoenix Factory’s Old Edgefield pottery continues the longtime tradition of Edgefield Pottery, pottery made in the Old Edgefield District of South Carolina from about 1820 to the early twentieth century. Owning a piece of Edgefield is like holding a small piece of history in your hands. Much of the Edgefield pottery was made before the Civil War in plantation-run potteries.
As early as 1809, a man named Abner Landrum began to build a village around the production of strong, watertight stoneware. About 1820, Landrum began experimenting with alkaline glazes, which had never been used before outside of Asia, because lead glazes were poisonous and salt glazing was too expensive. It quickly became one of the most distinctive and beautiful qualities of Edgefield Pottery. Today, Master Potter Justin Guy continues the 200-year old tradition of making Edgefield Pottery in The Phoenix Factory’s Old Edgefield Pottery. Here, Justin uses local clay, which is turned on a wheel and fired in a wood-burning Groundhog Kiln. A small section of this studio is devoted to housing a wide-range of 19th and 20th century Edgefield Pottery, which is the inspiration for Justin’s work today. Pots are sold straight from the Groundhog Kiln firings three times a year and are available for purchase at the studio.
Collecting Edgefield pottery is part love of craft, love of art, and love of history. Making pottery was artisanship and craftsmanship rolled up together. On top of the basic knowledge required to make pottery out of what simply lay in the land was the potter’s personal touches. This included experimenting with different forms, decorations, and glazes. There is also history in that each piece has its own story. Who made it? When was it made? For what was it used? Why did they do it this way while everyone else did it another way? Most times we can only guess at the story. That is what is fun about collecting, figuring this stuff out. There are no hard and fast facts. No tell-all books with values listed. EVERY piece is one of a kind. Every piece has a bit of mystery attached. As you learn through collecting, you begin to pick out the rare from the common. You enjoy your rare finds more and more.