Newcomb College Pottery is well-known for its distinctive markings, which represent the Newcomb College trademark, the year, the clay and glaze, and the decorator. Although this mark was not used until 1897, the prominent mark on the ceramics was "NC" with the letter "N" inside a bigger "C." This was later changed to simply "NC."
The Newcomb College name comes from a family of New Englanders who were wealthy landowners. The college was founded in 1847 by Mary Newcomb, a philanthropist, as a school for poor girls. In 1857, it became coeducational. It was named for its founders but did not accept men until 1969 when Drew University decided to admit women students. Even though it is now coed, it still maintains its relationship with Women's College of Drew University, allowing female undergraduates to study art history and political science while male students study biology and chemistry.
Newcomb pottery is famous for its large decorative designs created using black enamel. These marks include flowers, trees, birds, and even people. Sometimes these decorations are referred to as "black paintings" because they use such dark colors.
During World War II, when wood and coal were scarce, Newcomb pottery was one of the few sources for fuel oil, which was needed to fire buildings for heat and light.
The studio where the item was manufactured, the potter who crafted the piece, and the signature of the artist who adorned it are all frequent markings. A form number and clay type identifier may also be supplied. You can use reference books to assist you recognize strange markings. There are three general categories of studio pottery marks: tool marks, manufacturing marks, and decoration marks.
Tool marks indicate that a particular area of the vessel was treated with more force or pressed down harder than others. This might happen when forming certain shapes like shells or drums. The tool used to make the mark could be visible on the surface of the pot as a dark spot. Other tools that might leave a mark include chisels, gouges, and cutting blades. Manufacturing marks are made during the firing process or while the pot is being painted. They can tell you something about the type of fuel used in the furnace and how it was controlled. Decoration marks are those made after the pot has been fired. These could include paint brushes, pen nibs, and carbonized wood fragments found inside the mouth of the pot after it has been placed in the fire.
Markings can help date studio pottery if used in conjunction with other information such as material analysis and chemical testing for toxins. Tools used by different makers often produce unique patterns of indentations in their work.
Look for a design on the bottom of your piece of pottery that may reveal its provenance, even if the potter's or factory's name is missing. Indentations at the bottom of the item, which allow it to rest flat, might further indicate its provenance. Look also for words written inside the rim, usually after the glaze has been fired. These words will often tell you what kind of clay was used, where it was found, and sometimes even who made it.
Clay types can be identified by color, texture, or both. If you are not sure whether or not a particular type of clay was used, have several pieces of pottery analyzed by a professional ceramics laboratory. The lab should be able to tell you what type of clay was used based on its physical properties alone, if no other information is available. For example, if the piece is thin walled but has a thick body, it was probably made from some type of red clay. On the other hand, if it is thick walled with thin bodies, it could have been made from white or gray clay.
Potters' marks are designs etched into the surface of their pottery for identification purposes. They vary in size and complexity and can be simple geometric shapes or more elaborate pictures. Some potters' marks are meant to imitate natural objects such as trees or flowers while others are unique designs.
That gorgeous substance known as Maine "blue" clay is scooped out of our back yard at Wayne Village Pottery. This type of clay was also employed by early redware potters, and we love carrying on their heritage of making functional, inexpensive, and attractive handmade pottery. For our Christmas open house, we started crafting decorations and sculptures.
Maine blue clay is a type of soft, white clay found in large deposits near the surface of the earth in southern Maine. It is particularly suitable for making decorative items because it takes a paint-like color when fired.
Wayne Village Pottery uses this clay in all of its pieces, from plates to vases to ornaments. The color of the clay changes depending on what kind of decoration you put on it: gray if you only dye the clay before firing it, black if you only burnish it after firing, and bright colors if you apply both methods.
Clay has many different properties that determine how it will mold or shape-trap when wet and how it will fire when burned. The type of clay we use at Wayne Village is a moist, heavy clay that plants like because it soaks up water like a sponge. When made into objects with handles or tools, the clay's plasticity allows you to work with it. Just remember not to throw too hard or press on the piece too hard; otherwise, you'll damage the vessel.