Slipware Charger with Combed Decoration
Philadelphia was the center of earthenware production and distribution in the northeast during the eighteenth century, establishing a distinctive style that was an amalgam of English and German potting traditions. The Philadelphia style included highly skilled manipulation of liquid slips trailed in multiple straight, wavy, and combed lines, and the use of copper oxides to add bright green splashes. This charger, a large dish with a coggled piecrust rim, is an example of the heights achieved by the potter. Chargers were usually formed by draping the clay over a domed mold to shape the round depression, and then the edges were trimmed. In the Philadelphia technique, the slip was applied to the interior surface of the clay before it was drape-molded, which flattened the slip against the earthenware body.
Typically Philadelphia earthenware features rows of seven lines, as seen around the circumference of this charger. Slip cups usually had up to four spouts from which to trail the evenly spaced parallel lines. The central stripe would have required three passes of the slip cup to produce the twelve rows, which were then combed through to create the marbleized ridges.
Stacy C. Hollander, “Slipware Charger with Combed Decoration,” exhibition label for Self-Taught Genius: Treasures from the American Folk Art Museum. Stacy C. Hollander and Valérie Rousseau, curators. New York: American Folk Art Museum, 2014.