Why Burley?

Why Burley?

Why not?! Burley Clay pottery is American made. It is made in Ohio. It is hand made by talented artisans whose skills have been passed from generation to generation. Generations of families that have been born and raised in Eastern Ohio.

Some History
Eastern and Southeastern Ohio is rich in clay, and its pottery history dates to Native Americans, the original inhabitants of the Ohio Country.  From 1840 to about 1967, hundreds of great American potteries were producing wares in Ohio. Some of those being Weller, McCoy, Hull, and Roseville. In 1840, clay, particularly suited for making yellow ware, was discovered along the Ohio River banks by James Bennett, an Englishman.  Homer Laughlin introduced white ware to the American public in 1872. More than 50% of the ceramics produced in America between 1840 and 1930 were manufactured by Ohio potteries. The two most prominent areas being East Liverpool, often called the “Pottery Capital of the World,” and the areas around Roseville, Zanesville, and Crooksville. McCoy, Weller, and Roseville potteries in Eastern Ohio established themselves as successful businesses and the area eventually became known as the “Pottery Belt” and “Clay Corridor.”

In 1893, the Arts and Crafts Movement began to influence the pottery industry in Ohio. Many potteries began to create art pottery as well as their home use jugs and crocks. After the turn of the century, Ohio became a leader in art pottery production. However, after World War II, and the introduction of foreign competitor’s products, most of these Ohio companies closed their doors.

In 1923, Zane W. Burley and his brother, Dr. Samuel V. Burley founded the Burley Clay Products Company. Prior to that founding, several members of the Burley family were involved in the pottery business. Stoneware crocks and jugs for home use were the original items of manufacture. Since 1933, Burley Clay’s production began to focus on more decorative products for the garden such as bird baths and planters.

Burley Clay Products formed a marketing alliance with The Robinson Ransbottom Pottery Company in 1996. Under this special alliance, Burley produced nearly all the birdbaths and pedestals sold under the Robinson Ransbottom brand from 1996 until 2002. In 2003, the Burley name became forefront in the lawn and garden market with a new custom designed line of birdbaths and garden planters. Robinson Ransbottom ceased operations in 2005. Today, Burley Clay pottery is the only American made, handmade stoneware manufacturer of garden pottery operating in Southeastern Ohio.

Pottery has a long and rich history in the Eastern and Southeastern areas of Ohio. Sadly, with the influx of imported goods, many potteries have closed. Burley Clay pottery has remained strong by watching trends and changing as consumer’s tastes change. Today’s consumer knows that American-made means quality and value. Recently, the Burley Pottery team decided to ground themselves and refocus on their strength – the manufacture of unique, handmade, American made pottery.

That’s why Burley Clay Pots!

Eastern Ohio’s uniquely rich natural resources – clay, sand, and iron – once made Muskingum County part of the “Pottery Capital of the World.”  Between 1810 and 1967, hundreds of potteries called Ohio home. Beginning in 1923, so did the Burley Clay Products Company. Over the years, potteries thrived by supplying farmers with affordable stoneware crocks and jugs.

Burley Clay Products utilize several different production methods to produce our stoneware. From high-tech hydraulic and ram presses to the craftsmanship required in jiggering and casting. We carefully clean and mix our clay blends at a perfect consistency specific to each production method. Certain production methods require a thicker, more solid clay, while others demand a thinner, more liquid clay. Our production methods differ significantly but we share an emphasis on quality, efficiency, craftsmanship, and attention to detail.

One of the methods we employ is the rarely used art of jiggering. Jiggering, considered to be a handmade process, is centuries old, and is like using a pottery wheel. It is a mechanical adaptation used when duplicating several like items. We use the jiggering process to produce our birdbaths, pedestals, and garden planters. The expertly trained jiggerman places a plaster mold inside a large steel drum, adds a predetermined amount of clay inside the mold, and spins the steel drum. As the clay begins to dry, the plaster mold draws the water away from the clay, releasing the clay from the mold. The ware is then removed from the mold and the rough edges are trimmed.

Jiggering is an acquired skill requiring years of apprenticeship. This skill is usually passed down through family members who have worked in potteries for generations. Our products are hand-decorated by skilled artisans, making each unique, and creating pottery that is in great demand.

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