Hewells Pottery is the leading wholesale Pottery Solution for the US.
We offer retail sales to the public as well as discounted wholesale sales to the trade. Our sales programs can be catered to fit your business needs. Our direct program is designed to serve independent garden centers and retailers of all sizes, with a variety of choices available.
Our facilities are open to the retail public as well as trade professionals including interior & landscape designers, contractors, business owners, plant-scapers and florists.
About Hewell's Pottery
In "Brothers in Clay: The Story of Georgia Folk Pottery." Harold Hewell spoke about the expectations of his father, Maryland "Bud" Hewell (1891-1964): "I think he had if in mind he wanted all his boys to be potters... I have three brothers, and we've all kept out hands in the business. We must have been born with clay in our veins."
That red Georgia clay has been pumping through Hewell veins and hands since 1850, when Nathaniel Hewell (1832-1887), a Barrow County farmer, turned to pottery-making as a sideline, producing tableware and utilitarian pieces such as butter churns, jars, and jugs during the Civil War.
His son, Eli Hewell (1854-1920), moved the pottery to Gillsville, 12 miles east of Gainesville, around 1900, serving the agrarian clientèle of Hall County with food-storage crocks in the days before rural electrification.
Eli's son Maryland operated the pottery from the 1920's to the 1940's, turning out those essential farm wares as well as whiskey jugs for the R.M. Rose Distillery in Atlanta.
While the line Hewell's Pottery has produced - has changed over the years, and the process of pottery making has been modernized in some ways, two things have remained constant down the generations: the passion family members show for their craft and the hard work they commit to it.
Chester speaks with awe about the output of his father, Harold, in his heyday: "He could make enough stuff to keep two (assistants) busy, one preparing balls of (of clay) and the other filling the racks. I've see him make 1,000 gallons in one day, and part of it was in [labor intensive] Rebecca pitchers and washpots.
For many potters, producing 1,000 gallons would be a month.
Evolving While Remaining True to Tradition
"We're inventors, not imitators," Chester says of his family, and that's no idle boast.
Through the Depression, northeast Georgians depended on the Hewells and other Gillsville potters to produce churns, pitchers, crocks, jugs and other glazed kitchenwares. The advent of commercial dairies and refrigeration cut into that demand, and the family began focusing on the flower pots that had been, to that point, a small part of the business.
Yet even as the demand for the unglazed garden pots grew exponentially, the Hewells have never stopped turning all their pieces by hand. Today, in a factory right out of the early Industrial Age, the family members turn out pallet after pallet-full of garden wares each week. They go through more than 12,000 pounds of clay weekly, dug beside the banks of the Hudson River in nearby Madison County.
Thgouh the pottery has made some concessions to modernity, including electric turning wheels and enormous gas-fueled ovens, Chester will have no part of pot-making machines.
"You know the reason (competitors) don't make strawberry pots like mine by machine?" he asks... "They Can't."
Gardenware had been the bread and butter of Hewell's Pottery for nearly four decades when, in the 1980's, Chester began to feel the powerful pull of family history. He built a wood-burning tunnel kiln a stone's throw from their gardenware factory and revived the making of alkaline-glazed (as-glazed) stoneware that his ancestors had started with during the Civil War.
Then in 2007, the Hewells discovered a family link to one of the wellsprings of Southeastern pottery making, Edgefield, S.C., known for pieces more decorous and fanciful than those produced in North Georgia. Chester's great-grandfather, Eli, had married into a family of Edgefield potters and worked for a while int he shop, famed in potter annals, of Dr. Abner Landrum.
Chester and son Mathew began to create detailed works that, after much experimentation, could be mistaken for highly prized ones from the Edgefield of a century ago. These new pieces are emblazoned with dancing figures, chickens, and other decorative flourishes.
Meanwhile, the Hewells continue to produce unglazed gardenware and alkaline-glazed stoneware unabated.
"We started this for a simple reason: Where else could you go and see things that were done int eh country in teh '20s and '30s?" Chester Explains. "We wanted people to see the old-timey ways. They're going away, and we we're trying to help keep them alive." Even the festival's name harkens back: "Turning" denotes the grinding of clay in a mule-drawn mill; "Burning," the baking of pots in a wood-fired kiln.