When the artisans at Rowe Pottery offered to give the Wisconsinmade.com staff a pottery factory tour, we were excited to meet the people who make our most popular gifts. If you don't think quality items are made in the USA anymore, take the time to read this post and get to know Rowe Pottery.
Rowe Pottery is best known for their handmade crocks. What is a crock? So glad you asked! In the 19th century crocks were used to store food and today they are a popular home decor item. On the pottery factory tour, we got to see the process of making crocks from start to finish.
The process starts when the artisans make their own clay, mostly from Wisconsin materials.
Another artisan hand decorates the crock. She traces on the signature Rowe heart, pine cone, or the customer's design of choice, then hand writes the personalized message. She can even draw homes, family pets or anything you ask for on a crock. I wanted to know about the most interesting crock she has ever made, and she says she is often asked to draw cow portraits. You might have also noticed that at this point in the process the drawings on the crock are white, but the heat of the kiln will turn them blue.
Next the crocks go in the kiln. Loading the kiln reminds me of a giant game of Tetris. A Rowe Pottery Works employee spends hours loading a giant cart until everything fits just right. The cart is then pulled into the kiln (which is the size of a small garage) and the temperature slowly rises. The pottery stays in the kiln for about 14 hours. Once the pottery has cooled, the kiln is opened and the artisans can see how the pottery turned out. Each piece is unique and you never know exactly what the end product will look like.
It usually takes about six weeks from the time a customer orders a personalized Rowe Pottery crock to when it arrives at their door. Here are the finished crocks, ready for shipping. The shippers pack up the gifts with a special foam that expands to wrap round the pottery and protect it during transit.
Seeing so many crocks gave me some ideas for how to personalize a crock. Most people think of putting the gift recipient's last name but there are so many other options, for example:
- The name of your city and state.
- The name of a family vacation cabin.
- Have "Welcome" written on the top line of the crock and put it on your front step. You can even add your address to the crock.
The possibilities are endless and the personalizations makes the crocks an extra speical gift. To shop for crocks, visit Wisconsinmade.com, and feel free to call us if you need help choosing the perfect pottery gift! Rowe Pottery Crocks and other gifts ship nationwide so you don't need to live in Wisconsin to enjoy them.
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