The family-based pottery operation is central to the Southern tradition of stoneware. Unlike the craft apprenticeships of the urban Northeast, the agrarian environment fostered strong familial styles, known for their technological and aesthetic longevity. Originally based in Atlanta, eight generations of prolific Brown potters have continued the trade established by Bowling Brown prior to the Civil War. In 1923, two brothers, Davis and Evan Javan, moved part of the family business to Buncombe County, North Carolina, where their descendants continue to produce pottery.
Face jugs, believed to have originated with slaves in the South Carolinian Edgefield District, have been made by the Browns since the family’s arrival in North Carolina. The older work represents the continuation of a late nineteenth-century Georgia style common among white potters — an albany slip glazed jug modified by clay and kaolin additions. As the demand for household stoneware declined after World War II, face jugs became a source of steady income as purely decorative novelties.
Lynda Roscoe Hartigan Made with Passion: The Hemphill Folk Art Collection in the National Museum of American Art (Washington, D.C. and London: National Museum of American Art with the Smithsonian Institution Press, 1990)