Sewer Tile – Definition

Sewer Tile

Since the dawn of time, as long as there have been people, there has been…sewage. And for almost as long, we’ve apparently been concerned with it. There is concrete (or clay, at least) evidence of this dating back as far as 4000 B.C.E. Babylon, known for many things – gardens, law, sin…., was also known as the birthplace of pipe, pipe that was formed of clay and baked.

Nearly six thousand years [...] Click here to continue reading.


Gemel Pottery Jug or Bottle

Gemels

The pottery form known as a gemel, also gemel jug or gemel bottle, is one of the rarest forms in American stoneware. The word is derived from the Latin word “geminus,” meaning twin, double, paired, or half-and-half. The plural of this same word, “gemini,” is used to refer to the constellation composed of twin brothers, Castor and Pollux, of Greek mythology. The words “twin” or “double” definitely come to mind when one thinks [...] Click here to continue reading.


Drake, Dave – The Slave Potter

Dave Drake, the Slave Potter

The potter known as Dave the Slave was born circa 1800 in an area devoted to pottery making. The Edgefield District of South Carolina had the clay, workforce and demand to make it the area’s pottery capital. Large pottery factories dotted the district, most operating with slave labor. Their products were essential to life on the early to mid-19th century plantation where pottery served as refrigerator, Mason jar and [...] Click here to continue reading.


Cartouche – Definition

Cartouche – Definition

The decorative arts world has many “squishy” and vague vocabulary words, but few are “squishier” and vaguer than cartouche. Originally, the term comes from Egyptology and is used to describe a oval enclosing hieroglyphics and having a horizontal line at one end. (The line denotes royalty.) The oval had significance not unlike that of a closed circle, in that it was believed that an oval around a person’s name provided protection [...] Click here to continue reading.


Lithophanes – Definition

Lithophanes

Lithophane comes from two Greek words: lithos, meaning stone and phainein, which has a more shaded meaning that is close to making something appear quickly. The term refers to an image or scene that is etched or molded into very thin porcelain, so that the intaglio image “pops” when light is placed behind the porcelain. (Because of their windowpane-like appearance, they are sometimes mistakenly referred to as “lithopanes.”) This makes lithophanes three-dimensional, unlike [...] Click here to continue reading.


Clarice Cliff Pottery

Clarice Cliff (1899-1972)

Colorful & Quirky Ceramics

The Newport Pottery Bizarre Girls created bold Art Deco ware. Clarice Cliff’s hugely popular Art Deco era pottery features simple, streamlined forms decorated in brilliant colors and eye-catching patterns.

Clarice Cliff, one of eight children in a pottery making family grew up in the heart of Staffordshire pottery country in England. By the age of 17 she was working as a decorator at Wilkinson’s Royal Pottery where [...] Click here to continue reading.


Chief Sitting Bull – Sioux – Tatanka-Iyotanka

Sitting Bull, Sioux Chief (circa 1831 to 1890)

Sitting Bull, the man who would later become the Hunkpapa Sioux chief, was born in South Dakota, near the Grand River. His Lakota name was Tatanka-Iyotanka. In his thirties, he began to build his reputation as a warrior, leading war parties in Red Cloud’s War against a number of Dakota Territory forts. Although the U.S. negotiated with the Sioux in order to end the war and [...] Click here to continue reading.


Battleship Maine – Spanish American War

The Battleship Maine

Construction of the U.S.S. Maine was authorized in August of 1886, and she was launched in 1889 and commissioned in 1895. After several years spent patrolling the East Coast and Caribbean, orders sent the Maine and her crew to Cuba in response to continued civil unrest on the island.

The photograph above is a 1896 image of the ship framed in a sheet iron frame made from remnants of [...] Click here to continue reading.


Apocryphal – definition

Apocryphal – Definition

Apocryphal, the adjective form, means “of doubtful authenticity,” according to Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Apocrypha, the noun form, means “writings or statements of dubious authenticity,” again according to Merriam-Webster.

Apocrypha is actually a Greek word that means something closer to “obscure” or “hidden away.” The original meaning of the word, the Apocrypha in the proper noun sense, refers to religious texts outside of the traditional or accepted religious canon. Through connection with [...] Click here to continue reading.


Hires Root Beer, Googly Eyed Man

Hires Root Beer

While traveling in 1875, Charles E. Hires, a Philadelphia pharmacist, first tasted root beer. Root beer, traditionally made with sassafras, was a popular “small beer” or low-alcoholic drink in the colonial era, and was becoming popular in an alcohol-free format. While root beer has a long history, it has a wide range of recipes that call for everything from birch bark to vanilla, molasses to juniper berries, so Hires set out [...] Click here to continue reading.


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