Ugly Face Jug with Tusks by Phyllis Seidner. This salt glaze pottery jug features a toothy smile with tusk like teeth on either side. It was created here at WheatonArts by Associate Potter, Phyllis Seidner. Each jug is thrown on the wheel while the facial features are sculpted and hand applied. Each jug is signed and dated on the day their face was applied. Measures approximately 5″ h x 5″ w. Signed and birthdated 1/11/2022.
About the Artist
WheatonArts Associate Potter
Phyllis grew up in South Jersey and still lives locally with her husband. She studied pottery at Clay College, Cumberland County College and, after taking classes with Terry Plasket, found a way to work at WheatonArts — she has been Associate Potter since 2006. She has taught non-credit classes at Clay College and now teaches assorted workshops at WheatonArts.
Known for her face jugs, she also makes functional and decorative work using stoneware and porcelain clays, which are then high fired in reduction, salt, and wood kilns.
Her work has been exhibited in many juried shows and sales, both locally and nationally, including “Facework: American Ceramic Vessels from the South and the North,” Lehigh University, Main Gallery, Zoellner Arts Center, Lehigh, PA, January-May, 2014, curated by Norman Girardot and Ricardo Viera, and in solo exhibits. Additionally, her work has been included in several designer show homes at the Jersey shore, carried in various galleries, and she had the opportunity to create commissioned face jugs for the opening reception of “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music,” a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution at WheatonArts in 2011. She will often donate her work to causes she supports, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Cumberland & Salem Counties and GLSEN Southern New Jersey.
A Brief History of the Ugly Face Jug in the US.
The first account of the history of these jugs is that they were created by African peoples who were slaves in the United States in the 1800s. These jugs were found around North Carolina and Northern Georgia, dating back to the 1840s, throughout the Underground Railroad, and in gravesites in known slave areas. It is said that the daunting faces were meant to scare away the devil and other evil spirits, so that the souls of the departed could go to heaven. Slaves were often not allowed to have tombstones, and so some theories suggest that these jugs functioned as grave markers because of this.
Another common historical account of these jugs is from the prohibition of alcohol in the United States during the 1920s. Moonshine was stored in ceramic jugs at this time and the frightening faces were created to scare children from drinking the liquid inside the jugs. Other sources state that artists made the jugs so ugly because they supported the prohibition and wished to dissuade anyone from drinking the alcohol inside.