Face Jugs

Face jugs, or sometimes referred to as “ugly Jugs,” were produced In the early to mid-1800s in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. They were first made by African American potters and the design is said to be influenced by objects made for graveyards to scare away the bad spirits. They became popular in the mid-1800s for whiskey jugs as It was thought that the frightening face would keep the children from imbibing the whiskey within. A few years ago I started making them for a show. I had a lot of fun with them and as I made more they take on a variety of expressions form rude to sad to just bizarre. I then started making miniatures of the full sized jugs. My daughter insisted that all of the mini's needed to be named. After every firing she lines them up, and comes up all of the various names (the names she writes on masking tape and attached to the bottom). She has told me that I am not allowed to change the names, but she said if you take them home you are free to remove the tape and rename them. These modern variations, can hold alcohol, or A flower, and they vary from frightening to funny. These jugs are all fired in a wood burning kiln. I go through two chords of wood--what most people use a winter--in 24 hours to reach 2,400 degrees (white heat). The color on the pots—orange, pinks, and browns—are from the flames bring out the iron. It is call flashing. As ash comes down like snow it melts and forms a glass so you have a permanent record of the firing.

The jugs have morphed into cups. Initially in earthenware (due to Covid canceling wood firings), and more recently they are wood fired. These cups, either earthenware or wood fired stoneware, are all dishwasher and microwave safe. The face jugs have further morphed into planters.