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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Moravian Pottery and Tile Works

Henry Mercer was a true Renaissance man - historian, archaeologist, collector and ceramist, artist and writer, he championed the Arts and Crafts movement in his hometown of Doylestown, Pennsylvania and was considered by many at the time to be a crackpot. Eccentric he was for sure - but creative and innovative undoubtedly. He became fascinated with the decorative stove front designs on the old German stoves brought to Pennsylvania by immigrants, bought up as many as he could get his hands on - as well as the pre-industrial revolution tools and artifacts that now fill the Mercer Museum there - and used them as the basis for his ceramic tile designs. Much like many famous artists, he "borrowed" from earlier cultures (copyright free art?) and left a lasting legacy.

We toured the Moravian Pottery and Tile works factory where he and his team created his tiles, his home Fonthill and the Mercer Museum that houses his tool and artifacts collection - these last two operated by the Bucks County Historical Society. Fascinating stuff!

The Moravian Potter and Tile Works, factory where they still create tiles in the same way the Henry Mercer did in the early 1900s.

Detail of Tile Column

Ceramic artist cutting out a tile pattern

Image on the left shows a finished tile design, on the right, the pattern or form used to create it - raw clay in pressed onto the form, removed, fired and constructed as you would a puzzle, then I believe glazed and fired again (please correct me, you ceramic artists out there reading!)

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