Craft Center Collections

 Three handled cup, English, 1600-1700

1.         Three handled cup, English, 1600-1700

Potters could duplicate the shape of costly silver beakers in less-expensive clay.  Earthenware drinking vessels were often made with multiple handles. While some anthropologists believe that more than one handle allowed people to pass the cup to other drinkers, other scholars believe the extra handles were just decorative.


 Pipkin, buff earthenware, EnglishShards of pipkin, 1630-1680

2.         Pipkin, buff earthenware, English (Hampshire/Surrey border), 1650-1700;
Shards of pipkin, buff earthenware, excavated from the Allerton Site, Kingston, Mass, 1630-1680

Cooking pots were made of metal or ceramic with round bottoms to distribute heat evenly. The three legs allowed the cook to place the pot on the hearth as close to or as far away from the fire as she desired. Fragments of three-legged ceramic cooking pots have been excavated from several 17th-century Plymouth Colony sites.

 Sgraffito cup, buff earthenwarShards of slip-decorated cup, English

3.         Sgraffito cup, buff earthenware, Plimoth Plantation reproduction
Shards of slip-decorated cup, English (Devon/ Somerset area), excavated from the Allerton Site, Kingston, Mass., 1650-1700

Often ceramic vessels were decorated with different colors of clay. In this sgrafitto (scratch) technique, potters poured a thin layer of slip (liquid clay) over the surface of the unfired pot. When the clay hardened, they used a sharp tool to cut a design through the top layer, exposing the clay underneath.  Slipware fragments have been found on several Plymouth-area sites.


 Carved box, oak, English, 1625-1675

4.         Carved box, oak, English, 1625-1675

Wooden boxes made of six boards were used to store documents and other valuables.  Often the fronts were carved with geometric patterns laid out with a compass. This box is unusual in that it still has original brightly-colored painted decoration.


 Triangular chair, maple, beach and ash, English or Dutch, 1600-1650

5.         Triangular chair, maple, beach and ash, English or Dutch, 1600-1650

The pieces of this chair were turned on a pole lathe, which allowed the craftsman to produce a simple cylinder or complex designs. While many chairs had seats made of woven fiber, the wooden board seat required a complex joint, also seen in four-legged board-seated chairs made in Plymouth Colony. Triangular chairs are frequently seen in Dutch paintings of the period.


 Print, Arabella Stuart, English, c1600

6.         Print, Arabella Stuart, English, c1600

In the 1500s and 1600s, a person’s status was reflected in his or her clothing.  Women of the English gentry and aristocracy often wore jackets and skirts decorated with finely-worked embroidery. A jacket adorned with flowers, birds and insects used expensive silk and silver thread, and could take months for a skilled embroiderer to complete.


 Hoe, deer bone with wooden handle

7.         Hoe, deer bone with wooden handle, made by Robert Charlebois, Sokokie Abenaki, 2006

Hoes for breaking the soil could be made from a variety of materials, including clam shell, stone and bone. This hoe is made of the shoulder blade of a deer. The artisan who made it learned to carve bone from his grandfather. He decorated the hoe with symbols of his clan.

 Elizabeth Native ClaypotShard with incised decoration

8.         Cooking pot, clay, made by Elizabeth Perry, Wampanoag, 2007

Shard with incised decoration, excavated from the Brown site, Plymouth County, Mass.

Wampanoag women made coil pots from local clay. To keep the clay from shrinking when fired, they used crushed shell as a temper. The art of making pots using traditional methods is alive today among the Wampanoag and other Native groups.


 Arrow point made by Brian Bartibogue, 2006Large triangle projectile point, quartz, 500-1500

9.         Arrow point made by Brian Bartibogue, Miq’Mac,’ 2006
Large triangle projectile point, quartz, 500-1500, excavated from the Brown Site, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

Projectile points were worked from stone, carefully knapped at the edges. While local Native people frequently used quartz as a material, the artisan here uses a distinct white stone, so that future generations won’t confuse reproductions with original artifacts.


 Woven bag, twine (hemp and other fibers)

10.       Woven bag, twine (hemp and other fibers), made by Komi Wildhorse, Wampanoag, 2009

The art of weaving twine bags was passed from elders to daughters among the Wampanoag people.


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