What’s New at WDS – September 9, 2020

Everyday Living at WDS

Working from home is nothing new, but how did people manage in the days before Zoom? This week in Everyday Living at WDS, Cindy shows us three examples of home-based workspaces during colonial times. In all the images we see desks with multiple compartments, writing and reading implements, and, in the case of the Deane House desk (first photo), there are books and a wax jack for sealing envelopes. In the Stevens House (second photo), the desk is in the kitchen, the warmest room in the house. A ledger is open to the page where he recorded his business dealings with Joseph Webb. In the Webb House we see similar tools of the trade. One might wonder whether these desks were nearly so tidy when Deane, Stevens and Webb were using them on a daily basis!

Collections A-Z – “R” is for Redware! Today’s consumers have a wide array of affordable kitchen bowls, pitchers, and plates to choose from, made variously of glass, ceramic, metal or plastic. In 18th-century Connecticut the selection was considerably narrower, and often more expensive since so much was imported from Britain. Potters in the colonies began to satisfy the demand for inexpensive ceramics, many of them turning to deposits of rich red clay already used in brick making. The resulting ceramics were termed redware and by the time of the Revolution could be found in many kitchens.

Hartford and Norwalk—blessed with deposits of suitable red clay—were among the centers of redware production in Connecticut. The range of redware forms produced throughout the Northeast was limited only by the skill of the potter. Among the best-known examples are plates, often bearing a decorative edge and frequently decorated with a contrasting clay slip under the glaze. Such examples, most dating to the early decades of the 19th century, are highly prized by collectors today. Other examples incorporate a colored glaze with applied decorative motifs. Both the Stevens and Deane House kitchens include examples of redware plates, jars and jugs, typical of the forms that saw extensive use until the introduction of more durable stoneware and imported English ceramics.

Around the Grounds

This week in “Around the Grounds” Dick shows us the beautiful wrought-iron railing installed on the mahogany terrace overlooking the WDS Colonial Revival Garden in the first two photos. The third photo shows the vertical iron balustrade on the stairs leading to the main floor. This railing is capped with a beautifully stained oak handrail.