Very little about the crafting process has changed since the factory was opened in 1885 by Beryl Griffith, an English- Welsh potter. In 1927, Beryl's son Clyde and grandson Lloyd built the large kiln still used today. In the early 1960s Lloyd replaced the old steam engine that had driven the potters' wheels since 1914, converting the factory to electricity. Lloyd converted the kiln from coal to gas around 1971. Lloyd's daughter Cheryl inherited the business in 1979, since making the pottery available in many places around the country.
The original Griffith family methods of making glazes, processing local clays, and producing utilitarian stoneware are still in use today. The stoneware is formed by a process called "jiggering," adopted around 1900, and many of the molds are originals made by founder Beryl Giffith. The traditional look of the Clay City wares still involves quite a bit of hands-on work. Slight differences in the surfaces of individual pieces give them character and make them resemble antique bowls costing much more.
We offer Clay City Stoneware for sale at the new Near West Bloomingfoods, where it is hard at work throughout the store: in the produce department holding garlic and other organic fruits and vegetables, and in the deli cases displaying fresh salads and other take-home items. You can purchase bowls, crocks and even piggy banks from among those on display in our café's classic Hoosier cabinet.
Traditional stoneware is kiln fired for about 72 hours at a temperature of 2300 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes it very durable and dishwasher-, oven-, and microwave-safe. The glazes contain no lead, making Clay City stoneware safe for all foods. While it looks great on display, it is hardy enough to be used every day, as it is here at the co-op. Food stays warm and serves well in traditional stoneware crocks and bowls, making it ideal for cornbread, chicken casserole, fruit pies or cobblers.
Clay City Pottery can be found 39.4 miles west of Bloomington, in Clay City IN. The factory operates from 9am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday, and on Saturdays in April through December from 10am to 2pm. A visit to this unique business makes a great day trip!