About the Potter
Making Redware: a Message from Stephen Earp
As a potter, I find considerable benefits in re-creating the processes and techniques used by the original redware potters.
Today, most pottery is made using materials from around the world obtained through catalogues. In contrast, redware potters of the past made phenomenal works simply by relying on the materials they had available around them. The attitude, “what can I do with what I have?” greatly appeals to me. It helps foster a sustainable approach to both working and living. To me, making pottery is not just about the forms themselves; it’s about the community I live in, its history, and what it has to offer today: the soil, the people, and the beautiful and utilitarian objects that come from the interaction of these.
Stephen Earp received is B.F.A. in Ceramics from the University of Iowa in 1986. Earp served a traditional apprenticeship under Richard Bresnahan at St. John's Pottery in Minnesota. Earp worked in Nicaragua, Central America, as Ceramic Technician for the craft support organization Potters for Peace. He also worked as Master Potter at Old Sturbridge Village. Earp has taught wheel throwing and glaze chemistry classes at several pottery centers throughout central Massachusetts. Since 2007, Earp has been included in Early American Life Magazine’s Directory of Traditional Crafts. Stephen Earp offers workshops and demonstrations of the redware tradition. Based in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, Stephen Earp Redware is the natural outgrowth of years of study and practice in the ceramic tradition.
“The lives and works of the early redware potters enthralls me. I am drawn to their tenacity, quirky habits, and the history of the forms they produced. It is amazing to consider how certain forms traveled through the ages virtually unchanged while tracking the ‘family tree’ of others is like a game of telephone played out across centuries and continents. In either case, I’m drawn to the clarity of line and the purposeful execution of form, especially when realized in the hands of a master. In my own work, I strive for a similar quiet elegance which flows from an ingrained familiarity with the forms and their place in the community.”
To learn more about early pottery, check out my bi-monthly early pottery history journal.