I craft one-of-a-kind redware, inspired by the traditions and techniques of Pennsylvania German potters from the late 1600's to the mid 1800's. My collection includes plates, bowls and ornaments with original designs, some inspired by antique redware and custom pottery made just for you.
This pottery begins with earthenware clays and replicas of hands tools used by the Pennsylvania German potters. A rolling pin to flatten the red clay, wood and clay molds to shape the clay into plates and bowls, a coggle wheel to crimp the edges, white clay slip, sgraffito tools to scratch and slip cups to decorate the clay to transform it into a work of art. I use food safe glazes fired in an electric kiln to finish my pottery. This pottery is meant to be touched, used gently and placed on display for all to see.
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 College 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 (also spelled sgrafitto) - 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
Pennsylvania Redware by Denise Wilz was originally published in Pottery Making Illustrated March/April 2008 issue with photos by Lisa Short American Ceramic Society
"Pennsylvania Redware is one of the oldest pottery techniques in the U.S. Denise shows how you can get the same timeless results by using up-to-date materials and techniques." Download article
This article is also included in Electric Firing: Creative Techniques published by the American Ceramic Society.
2016 - Sgraffito and Slip-trailing articles are included in Low-fire Glazes and Special Projects edited by Holly Goring and published by the American Ceramic Society.
2015 - Article is included in Glazing Techniques edited by Anderson Turner and published by the American Ceramic Society.