Denise Wilz began creating redware in 2002 after being inspired in an adult evening class taught by friends Loretta and Ivan Belac, where she used her great-grandmother’s tin cookie cutters to make ornaments.
Wilz graduated from Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1982 with a degree in Studio Art, but until the opening of Wilz Pottery in 2002, she worked in the corporate world as a computer programmer and analyst for almost 20 years.
She is self-taught and continues to refine and expand her skills. She takes inspiration for many of her designs from Pennsylvania German pottery, fraktur, and painted furniture.
Wilz uses traditional techniques and tools—rolling pins to slab clay, a disc cutter to create circles, slip cups for slip-trailing, scratch nib tools, styluses, a coggle wheel to decorate plate edges, molds for shaping plates, and handcrafted tin cookie cutters for ornaments. She fires her work in an electric kiln and uses food-safe glazes.
She has authored several articles and videos, and has been teaching redware pottery making since 2009. She is a Master Artisan of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, and has been included several times in the Directory of Traditional American Crafts.
Her work is available at shows and shops near Allentown, Pennsylvania.
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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