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Private appointments to visit the store are also available anytime from 9am – 9pm Sundays – Wednesdays.
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The Pennsylvania German potters have produced Pennsylvania redware pottery since the early 18th century. A great deal of the pottery produced during much of this time was strictly utilitarian. In the late 19th century, redware started being replaced by agate, aluminum and factory produced stoneware. However, decorative pieces of redware, especially flowerpots continued to be produced.
This process continues, without interruption, to this day. Speaking of Pennsylvania, Brian Cullity of the Heritage Plantation of Sandwich Massachusetts stated, “No other American region approaches this state in diversity of form or exuberance of decoration.”
There are several decoration techniques in Pennsylvania German pottery production. Colored slips can be trailed, sponged, splotched, combed, feathered or marbleized on top of the clay to create a variety of effects. The most desired decoration technique in Pennsylvania German pottery is sgraffito.
Sgraffito, Italian for “scratch”, is the process wherein the vessel is covered in a colored slip and a sharp tool is used to remove or scratch away an area of the applied slip allowing the clay body to show through. The majority of old pieces ranging from 1775-1825 show a wide range of abilities that produced these different decoration styles.
How It Began
Robesonia Redware is a family of potters that was formed by former Breininger Pottery employees Scott Madeira, Thilo Schmitz and Curt Pearson who spent their lives learning and making pottery with and for Lester Breininger. Together they were the chief designers at Breininger Pottery for the last 10 years it was in business keeping the PA German tradition alive.
From 1965 until 2011 Breininger Pottery became a well known name in Pennsylvania German redware pottery. Everything from wheel thrown vases and pitchers to handmade figurines and drape molded plates covered in various slip and sgraffitoed decoration were created and reproduced in the town of Robesonia, PA. Great detail was taken to keep the traditional style of pottery making alive, from duck quills in slip cups to plate molds dating back to the early 18th century.
Scott began working for Lester Breininger in 1974. Drawing much of his inspiration from the many animals that can be found around his 5 acre property, as well as books, pictures or historical musuem pieces. He has been making handmade figurines for over 47 years that have always amazed redware collectors. Starting when he was a young man, his works have been in many museum collections, featured in many magazines and even hanging on the White House Christmas tree.
While working a full-time job and making pottery part-time, Scott also helped raise two young boys that he would often bring to work with him at the pottery. There Thilo Schmitz and Curt Pearson would watch while their dad would turn lumps of clay into his animals and figurines.
As the boys grew, so did their love of pottery with both boys “officially” starting in pottery at the age of 12. Thilo, the older of Scott’s sons, became an amazing sgraffito artist, retiring from pottery in 2018. Scott’s younger son, Curt, has become well rounded in all areas of redware production, decoration, finishing and managing the business over the last 27 years. In 2012, Curt’s wife, Michelle, joined the family business bringing her background in Graphic Design, marketing and event planning while learning more about redware pottery as a sgraffito artist.
From technique to design, everything they do is rooted in Pennsylvania German inspiration and tradition. When the doors to Breininger Pottery closed, our family just couldn’t stay away from playing in the clay.
July 17, 2011, we opened our own business, Robesonia Redware. April 1, 2013, we opened our store located right along Penn Avenue near the center of the quaint town of Robesonia, PA. We love what we do day in and day out. The long tradition of redware has been in our family for over 80 years combined. We are honored to be carrying on the pottery tradition and to make museum grade, heirloom quality pieces for you.