This page is dedicated to following a team of historic journeyman, geologists and potters as they recreate a working colonial pottery that is using 18th century Staffordshire clay bodies made from wild Carolina indigenous clay and minerals. The goal is that contemporary clay artisan can immerse their hands in history using tools, technology and clay bodies that would have been used by John Bartlam in his Camden, South Carolina pottery from 1772 till his untimely death in 1781.
Kate Waltman throwing a bowl on Historic Camden’s Staffordshire style wheel with the help of fellow potter Mike Stumbras. This workshop was part of the our December 2021 Symposium on Carolina Wood-fired Staffordshire Pottery 1765-1821
Staffordshire vs Cain Hoy
John Bartlam came from Staffordshire England which was on the cutting edge of the industrial revolution where massive coal fired bottle kilns produced pottery for the entire British empire. On the other hand, Cain Hoy S.C., where Bartlam set-up his first pottworks, was a collection of small seasonal brickyards with a small accompanying settlement of mostly enslaved brick makers firing inefficient wood-fired brick kilns.
John Bartlam at Cain Hoy
Bartlam’s arrival in Charles Town S.C. in 1763 was of great concern to Josiah Wedgwood who saw Bartlam’s move as an attempt to take control of the Colonial American pottery market. And Wedgwood had reason to be concerned. Within two years of his arrival, Bartlam had a pottworks up and running and within another four years Bartlam accomplished what few in England and no one in Colonial America had yet to accomplish, the making of bone china.
Channeling Bartlam’s Spirit
In 1772 Bartlam arrived in Camden and built his third and final pottery. In Bartlam’s honor we have recreated an 18th Century pottery in a late 1700’s hand hewn log cabin with a working Staffordshire potter’s wheel. The pottery allows contemporary clay artisans to immerse their hands and minds in history using 18th century tools, technology and clay bodies that John Bartlam would have used.
Staffordshire Potter’s Wheel
Using wood that would have been readily available in 18th century South Carolina we have built a working reproduction of an 18th century Staffordshire potter’s wheel. This type of wheel was exactly what a Staffordshire potter like John Bartlam would have been accustomed to and used. While quite common at that time, only a hand full of these original wheels remain today.
The Bottle Oven
We are in the process of building an updraught wood-fired Bottle Kiln aptly named because of its distinctive bottle-like shape. Bottle ovens and kilns were synonymous with the manufacturing of pottery in England from the early part of the 18th to the mid-20th century. Our kiln, when completed, will be used to fire pottery made at the Pottworks on our Staffordshire wheel.
Clay Borrow Pits
While building the first mill pond in Camden c.1752, Robert Mulhouse recovered wild clay of the highest quality. So high in fact, that locals started calling it “Porcelain Earth”. The brickyard is located near an area of borrow clay pits that were mined starting in the second half of the 18th century through the early 20th century.
Visiting Clay Artisans
The Pottworks is available to contemporary clay artisans that would like to immerse their hands in history using tools, technology and clay bodies that would have been used by John Bartlam in his Camden, South Carolina pottery from 1772 till his untimely death in 1781.
The Historic Camden Foundation is not state or federally funded so we rely on individual donations. Even a small donation truly helps. So please send a gift and make a difference!