Louisville, Kentucky has an abundance of clay deposits which has made it a pottery-making center for decades. One of the more famous traditions to come from Louisville is M. A. Hadley pottery.
Mary Alice Hadley grew up in a family of clay tile makers. She started her career as a painter and won awards across the country. Soon she combined her artistry with pottery. In the beginning she made pottery for herself and friends. She created a set of custom dishes for her Ohio River houseboat. She invited friends to go out on the boat, and her friends loved the dishes. The excitement grew so much that she began to make pottery to sell. Her husband, George, helped her start the Hadley Pottery Company in 1940.
Four years later her husband bought a building the the Butchertown section of Louisville for her business. I think she was blessed to have a husband so supportive of her craft. She worked at the pottery until she died in 1965.
I've always been fascinated with M. A. Hadley pottery. Different people in my family have had pieces. They aren't fine china, but they are special. They make me smile.
When Tim and I got married, I gave my bridesmaids a ring holder made by Hadley Pottery.
Last year while in Southport, NC I spotted a mug in a gift shop. I knew right away it was M. A. Hadley. It seemed silly to buy a piece in North Carolina. Plus it'd be the first piece I bought specifically for myself. I kept wandering back to that gift shop, and Tim convinced me to buy it. I've enjoyed it so much, and I now have two more mugs. Even though I've not been a lifelong collector, this pottery has woven a thread through my life.
The pottery is still made today. It's hand painted by different artists, and you will notice a slight variation, but I think that adds to its charm. There are over twenty different patterns. Every piece is signed by an artist trained by one of Mary Alice Hadley's proteges. Look for the signature to know you've got an original.
If you stop and consider how something as simple as pottery can make you smile and can have a slight impact on a person's life, how much more can we affect people? I doubt Mary Alice Hadley dreamed her craft would affect so many people for so many years. It makes me pause and wonder how my actions and words can affect others. And I need to be remember who I serve. I hope to reflect His light and love to others.