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Stoneware & Co. pottery

All Photos: Maura Friedman

Stoneware & Co. pottery


This beautiful Kentucky pottery belongs in every Southern home

Few household items can change the way a kitchen looks and feels like beautiful kitchenware. That’s even more true when it’s handmade pottery with a design that pays homage to Southern traditions while maintaining both classic elegance and a modern aesthetic. These are qualities that you can instantly see and appreciate in the craftsmanship of Stoneware & Co.'s work.

With more than 200 years spent creating an assortment of handmade dinnerware, bakeware, serving pieces and more, Stoneware & Co. has earned the right to claim prominent space in any true Southerner’s kitchen. From cups and bowls to plates and pitchers, the raw beauty of Stoneware’s designs range from luxuriously simple to amazingly detailed, all created by skilled artisans working exclusively by hands to turn raw elements into timeless, functional art that can transform down-home dinners into exceptional meals.

Stoneware & Co. has a great origin story. A family business located in Louisville, it is one of the oldest stoneware manufacturers in America. The company was founded in 1815 by Jacob Lewis, a potter who set up shop near the banks of the Ohio River. Back then, travelers needed containers to transport a range of goods — from sugar to whiskey — and he was there to sell them his handmade storage vessels, along with other products they might need for their homes, including butter churns, plates and bowls. Stoneware was a more affordable alternative to pricey but standard pewter, and became one of the most popular housewares available in the late 18th century.

Stoneware & Co. also got into the game of making jugs, which were increasingly in demand starting in the early 19th century as Louisville distilleries made more and more bourbon. The golden-brown spirit would be transferred from wooden barrels into jugs for consumers, and general stores would have them customized so that they could be refilled on return visits. And later, during the Civil War, Stoneware & Co. containers were used as storage for Union soldiers’ food supplies.

Today, the Kentucky-based company’s high-temperature-fired pottery has a distinctive look and style that carries across its different products. You can see consistency and continuation between generations in its Kentucky Derby-inspired, galloping horse-embossed items that include a 19-inch oval serving platter, created from molds designed by 40-year Stoneware & Co. veteran Ngoc Phan, the company's master mold maker. You can also instantly recognize the nostalgic look of Stoneware’s hand-painted French Country product line, which includes tea pots, casseroles, serving trays and more.

Another standout is Stoneware & Co.'s Louisville Collection, a beautifully neutral cream and tan design, used in carafes, serving bowls and mugs.

Owner Stephen A. Smith told Sophisticated Living magazine, which commissioned Stoneware to create commemorative player trophies for its 2016 Polo World Cup, that he’s focused on bringing his goods to a wider and younger audience as they mature into homeowners and serious home chefs.

“We are the last-standing great American pottery company that still does everything from start-to-finish by hand,” he said, calling the pottery “authentic, anti-disposable and the epitome of handmade American craftsmanship.”

As you might have guessed, we agree.

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Mike Jordan is Southern Kitchen's former associate editor. He was also the host of our podcast, Sunday Supper. His work has appeared in a variety of publications including The Huntsville Times, American Way, Upscale, Time Out, NewsOne, Fatherly and Thrillist, where he served as the founding Atlanta editor. He lives in East Point, Ga., with his amazing wife and daughter, and loves writing, playing alto saxophone, cooking, craft beer, and cocktails. He is admittedly much better at these things than basketball, so never choose him for your pickup team.