I began Wilz Pottery and creating redware in 2002. My inspiration for using red earthenware clay came about from an adult evening class taught by my friends Loretta and Ivan Belac, where I used my great-grandmother's tin cookie cutters to make ornaments. I have since had replicas made so that I can use the originals for the big fat sugar cookies I make at Christmas time. Prior to 2002 I was employed in the corporate world as a computer programmer and analyst for almost 20 years. I graduated from Moravian University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1982 with a degree in Studio Art.
I love the deep rich color of the red clay. I am self-taught and continue to refine and expand my skills each day. I begin by working with a clay that is a dark red brown, and when fired, becomes a beautiful red. I like shiny things and have decided not to age my work.
I am a Master Artisan of the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, and am included in the Directory of Traditional American Crafts presented by Early American Life magazine.
Definitions of Redware decoration techniques
Sgraffito ware - Slip (liquid clay) of a different color is applied to the red earthenware clay, then the slip is scratched away to reveal the clay beneath to create the design.
Slipware - Slip of a different color is drawn on the red earthenware clay in pleasing designs
Pottery Making Illustrated - March/April issue – Authored “Pennsylvania Redware” a “how-to” article on the making of Pennsylvania Redware. Photo of me at work appears on the cover.
Read the article here
Electric Firing : Creative Techniques; published by The American Ceramic Society – includes the “Pennsylvania Redware” article
Antiques and Collecting Magazine – April issue – article written by Wendy Komancheck titled “Inspired by Pennsylvania Dutch Folk Art”. The “Partridge in a Pear Tree” Sgraffito plate was featured on the cover.
Pottstown Mercury newspaper – August 30, 2009 - “Feel Free to Touch” by J. F. Pirro
Town and Country newspaper – October 21, 2010 – “Finding Happiness in Pottery” by Kelly Chandler
Glazing Techniques edited by Anderson Turner and published by the American Ceramic Society. The “Pennsylvania Redware” article is included.
Low-fire Glazes and Special Projects edited by Holly Goring and published by the American Ceramic Society. My sgraffito and Slip-trailing articles, taken from “Pennsylvania Redware” are included.
Early American Life – June issue – featured my Sgraffito bowl
Keystone Edge site - Handmade in PA: Stunning ceramics from the state’s artisans
Early American Life – August issue – featured my Sgraffito bowl on page 66
I have been leading hands-on workshops making Redware Pottery since 2007. I enjoy helping folks of all ages create their own special sgraffito and slipware plates and I love all the different designs they choose to do. Check out the students' work on the Workshops page.
I am looking forward to enlightening more folks about Redware and the Pennsylvania German potters and pottery in general. The methods and hand tools used hundreds of years ago can still be used today to create stunning objects. Did you know? Pottery is a science lesson that art makes beautiful!
I will continue making my art as long as my body will let me. I love seeing the designs that spring from my mind to create one-of-a-kind designs on each piece of clay that I touch.