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Craven, Thomas W.
Place Made:
Randolph County North Carolina United States of America
Date Made:
stoneware –salt-glazed
HOA: 7″;
DIA of base: 7 3/4″
Accession Number:
Straight-sided, salt glazed, and of stoneware clay, this lidded jar was made by Thomas W. Craven in Randolph County, North Carolina. The lid with a thrown knob has two cobalt blue bands that frame two Masonic emblems with “T.W. CRAVEN” stamped on the top and filled in with cobalt blue slip. The jar and lid were fired separate from one another. The jar was fired upside down, evidenced by the pooling of ash and salt on the undersides of the handles. On the side of the jar is the same Masonic emblem as seen on the lid, also filled in with cobalt blue slip, along with his stamp, “T.W. CRAVEN.” Two pulled handles were placed on opposite sides against the shoulder in order to make what is often referred to as “lug” handles. The terminals of the handles are pushed under slightly and the ends of the handles were visibly pushed downward into the body of the jar. These handle attributes are seen on many pieces made by the Craven family in North Carolina.

Salt glazing is a technique used by stoneware potters to create the glassy surface. When the pottery kiln reached over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, salt was introduced to the kiln, creating a vapor. This vapor adhered to the silica in the clay, forming a glass. From the high temperature, the clay is often non-porous, or vitrified. This, combined with the salt glazing, allowed the potters to not have to apply a glaze to the interior of the vessel. It could hold liquids and not seep, unlike earthenware storage vessels.

MAKER: Thomas Wesley Craven (1829-1858) likely learned to make pottery from his father Anderson Craven in Randolph County, North Carolina. The pottery made by Thomas and his brothers often reflects their pride as Masons. Many pieces have Masonic symbols such as anchors and the compass and square.

Scarborough, Quincy. The Craven Family of Southern Folk Potters. Fayetteville, NC: privately published, 2005.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund