Jonathan and Jan Wright began their journey with clay together in a college ceramics class, where Jonathan became fascinated with salt glazing, built a salt kiln, and began experimenting. After they married in 1986, the couple established a business, inspired by an exquisite antique salt-glazed stoneware pitcher collected years earlier by Jonathan’s mother.
Jonathan throws pots on the potter’s wheel and Jan decorates them with early American cobalt motifs. The magic of throwing salt into a white-hot kiln to form a clear, shiny glaze over the surface of the wares, then opening the kiln several days later to never-ending surprises, was—and still is—alluring beyond description. In 2002, they added historically based redware pottery to their line, delighted with the variety and color this added to their daily lives and inventory.
Through many labor-intensive steps, the Wrights take great care to achieve authentic, museum-quality pieces that collectors can pass along as heirlooms to future generations. Their work has been recognized in magazines, juried folk art shows, and historic sites and living history museums across the country. In 1999, they were invited to make a Christmas ornament for the Blue Room Christmas tree in the White House, which is now part of the White House’s permanent collection.
The Wrights find their quiet lifestyle as potters very suitable, enjoying family life intertwined with day-to-day business tasks. They love sharing their work with others and view it as a rare and treasured opportunity to contribute to the cultural preservation of our nation’s early heritage.
Artists appearing in the 20201 Directory of Traditional American Crafts have been selected, and the best of their handiwork has been photographed at Cedar Grove, an 18th Century house museum operated by the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Look for the Directory in our August 2021 issue.
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