VIDEO: Hartstone Pottery - A Look Behind the Scenes
VIDEO: History of Hartstone on Our Ohio
The Original Hartstone Pottery, Inc., will endeavor to produce hand decorated stoneware products of the highest quality and value for use in the kitchen, tabletop, oven, and as giftware accessories. Our goal is to share the story of our handmade products and the artistic expressions of our craftspeople with Ohio natives and friends old and new around the country. Our passion is our product, and we take great pride in offering a variety of items, all handmade in the United States. Our mandate is to share our story.
Southeastern Ohio was among the first areas of the nation's interior to be settled in the late 1700's following the Revolutionary War. The Ohio River Valley was a path for early pioneers and a birthplace for pottery given its accessible water transportation and availability of essential raw materials, clay and sand. Ohio's pioneer farmers, construction of the Ohio & Erie Canal, and the production of pottery shaped Zanesville, a river town founded in 1797. Zanesville's pottery industry grew out of necessity, the pioneer farmers' need for inexpensive containers and tableware, made possible by rich local clay and sand deposits. Watertight containers were necessary to transport crops, grains, and other farm products up the Ohio & Erie Canal destined to the eastern markets of Philadelphia and New York, and as far south as New Orleans. "Bluebird" potteries, owned by farmers, were worked between fall and spring. Called "Bluebird" because production ended when bluebirds returned from the south in spring, farmers returned to their fields, and the local clays could be mined again in preparation for fall production. By 1850 as many as 41 "Bluebird" potteries were producing in the Muskingum County area, at which time full-time commercial pottery manufactures began to emerge.
During the early 20th century, the Industrial Revolution took hold of Zanesville, coal-fired steam operations developed, electricity became available and the ceramics industry grew. Factories producing all types of household stoneware products grew rapidly, feeding a consumer demand across the nation. Some of the area's early pioneers in the pottery industry included Sam Weller, the Roseville Pottery Company, J. B. Owens Pottery, the Mosaic Tile Company, McCoy Pottery Company, and Robinson Ransbottom.
Hartstone was first produced in 1976 in Chatham, New Jersey. Pat and Sharon Hart's goal was to create beautiful, handcrafted quality articles for the preparation and presentation of food. Hartstone's first product was the stoneware cookie mold. This product allowed home cooks to create beautifully shaped, three-dimensional cookies. The Hartstone cookie molds were an instant hit, and Hartstone grew quickly.
In 1983 Mr. Hart moved his manufacturing facility to Zanesville, Ohio because of its known pottery heritage and the availability of a facility to expand his growing business. In 1983, Hartstone began producing hand-decorated gift and tableware. As with the cookie molds, this segment of the business grew quickly and now makes up the majority of Hartstone sales.
Hartstone Pottery now operates in a building that was once operated by the JB Owens Pottery Company, built in 1902. This beautiful old post-and-beam building, fleeced in brick, shows the scars of many alterations, including that of fire.
In the mid-1990s, the Harts sold the business to Carlisle Home Products, USA, Inc. Carlisle operated the business for approximately eight and a half years. Carlisle stopped plant production in the spring of 2005, and most factory employees found themselves without jobs.
In June, 2005, the pottery was reborn. A group of investors from Zanesville and other locales around the country, having heard the story of Hartstone, and recognizing the plight of its employees, negotiated with Carlisle for the purchase of the 12 acre pottery and all of its equipment. In the next few days word traveled quickly that the new entity, The Original Hartstone Pottery, Inc., had put its best foot forward and rehired former employees, restarted the manufacturing processes, and reopened the on-site factory store. Within days, loyal Hartstone customers returned to the factory store, some of them just wanting to share their enthusiasm about the reopening of a treasured landmark.
As each day comes, the pottery continues to take giant steps forward, all the while recapturing the original look, feel, and quality of products that first made Hartstone an unforgettable American treasure. With modern amenities like this Web site in hand, Hartstone's message can once again be shared . . . and will never again be forgotten. Today, Hartstone continues to provide America with hand-painted, high-fired stoneware products. Many of our designs continue to remain collectible.
We, the employees of Hartstone, are the current stewards of an ancient craft, perfecting and making beautiful the combination of earth, water, and fire. This tradition, born of necessity, continues to be important to the vitality of the region and its people, many of whom carry on the tradition of several generations of potters. The master craftsmanship that is too often lost in today's fast paced world and economy is alive in this place. Our pottery heritage is as much a part of the local tapestry as is the Appalachian countryside that surrounds us. The passion of our craftspeople and partnership with our customers sustains us.
Welcome to The Original Hartstone Pottery.