Today in Ceramic Art History: David Drake

by Gregory Lastrapes
May 3, 2019

Today we reflect on a pot made exactly 157 years ago by David Drake (c. 1801-1870), an enslaved ceramist working on a plantation pottery in the Edgefield District of South Carolina in the United States. Drake was one of many slaves who worked as “turners” throwing utilitarian wares on the wheel. Though much of the history of these turners remains obscure, Drake signed and dated his work. Furthermore, many of Drake’s pots are inscribed with original poetry, which is exceptional considering the illegality of being a literate slave at the time. The pot (see images, below) is inscribed, “I made this jar all of cross, If you don’t repent you will be lost,” which is likely a reference to biblical text. The opposing side bears Drake’s signature, “May 3, 1862/LM Dave.” 

Jar by "Dave," 1862, courtesy of The National Museum of American HistoryJar by "Dave," 1862, courtesy of The National Museum of American History

Images and information courtesy of The National Museum of American History. “Jar Made by ‘Dave.’” Thrown and incised stoneware with ash glaze. The National Museum of American History Collections, 996.0344.01. http://americanhistory.si.edu/collections/search/object/nmah_1181785.

Look for posts from our new Today in Ceramic Art History news series every month on our news page, and on Facebook and Instagram!

Recent News

Nov 12, 2019
EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY Studio Potter is accepting applications for our new Editor as of November 12, 2019

Studio Potter (SP) is a monthly, online publication giving voice to the full spectrum of discussion and dialog within the ceramic arts community. SP is an online publication, allowing this... Read More

Share Share
Oct 23, 2019

It's a season of change for Studio Potter. Please give a warm welcome to the interim team, who will lead SP in the coming months as we search for a new editor (more to come on that soon). We wholeheartedly thank Elenor Wilson for her service as editor and wish her all the best.... Read More

Share Share
Sep 30, 2019

After five years of superb service, our Editor is beginning a new chapter in her career and we wish her the very best. Please read her farewell letter. Stay tuned for more information about the future of SP and job opportunities. 

Share Share