Redware is a type of reddish pottery made from clay and fired at low temperatures, according to the website Antiques & Fine Art. Early American settlers used local clay to make redware for utilitarian household items.
The color of redware pottery is due to its high iron content, which turns a reddish color after firing despite what may have been the clay's original color. Redware can be made of clay that starts out as yellow, blue or other colors. After firing, redware can range in color from reddish brown to orange depending on mineral concentration and firing temperature.
Firing temperatures for redware range from 1,700 to 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit. Higher temperatures are not used because the iron-rich clay would melt. Also, because the clay is porous, redware is typically glazed to seal the pottery.
Early American redware was influenced by British techniques, according to the New England Antiques Journal. It was also cheap to make. It broke easily but could quickly be replaced. The pottery was typically sealed with a simple transparent lead glaze, which we now know could cause damage to the nervous system.
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