The Indiana Insider Blog

Bee Tree Pottery: Colonial Pottery Hidden in Posey County

Think you can find Colonial-era art at just about any museum?

Maybe, but it won’t be quite the same as Tom Wintczak’s Bee Tree Pottery products. Wintczak knows every bit of history behind his art and puts his heart and soul into every piece of work.

Small Jar

Small Jars created by Tom Wintczak

Wintczak is like “the village potter.” He works out of his beautiful log cabin studio, surrounded by lush gardens, tucked away in rural Posey County. He says once you enter his world, you feel like you are away from everything and can just breathe.

All of his work is one of a kind, so every one of his pieces holds a special place in his heart.

Wintczak was never trained as an artist. Before finding his passion in life, he was a Hertz Rental Car manager. But, three years ago, he found his love for historic red-ware and stone folk art.

Face Jug created by Wintczak

Traditional Face Jug created by Tom Wintczak with a cream glaze

Now, his career is something he truly loves – making these beautiful pieces of art. The stone folk art is quite interesting. From 1850-1880, these “face jugs” were used to scare children away from the contents of the jars, usually alcohol or poison. Wintczak says these are sometimes referred to as “ugly jugs” because of the intimidated face featured on the piece. He says the face was also used to remind adults that alcohol was only to be used for medicinal purposes. The adults feared they would be “bitten” by the jug if they misused the substance inside.

His genuine interest in and respect for the history behind his art is what makes Wintczak one of the best and most recognized artisan of folk art. In fact, he has had the honor of being named a “traditional artisan” by a jury of professionals convened by the magazine Early American Life. Less than 200 people in the world have the honor of having the title “traditional artisan.”

Wintczak has started a blog – the Bee Tree Pottery Blog – where you can find out more about him and his work. He says it contains a lot of information, but he says he “would rather make pottery than mess with a website.”

Tom Wintczak

Photo of Tom Wintczak courtesy of Early American Life Magazine

But, you don’t have to travel all the way to Posey County to get a taste of Wintczak’s art. His art can be found at the New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art, the Arts Guild in Evansvilleand at various festivals around the state.

In fact on September 17 and 18th, 2011, Wintczak will be present at the Kunfest German Street Fair in New Harmony, which celebrates German heritage with artists and food. Wintczak will be painting his red ware and dressed in traditional colonial clothing. He will give demonstrations on the Sgraffito style of decorating pottery, painting technique where the artist scratches into the top layer of the paint to reveal areas of the surface underneath.

Events like this are what give Wintczak joy. He loves his art and says, “it has been a blessing.”

To get in touch with Tom Wintczak, check out his website or send him an email.

Indiana ArtisanTom Wintczak is a juried member of Indiana Artisan – the official organization to review, recognize and promote the work of Indiana’s highest-quality art and food artisans. Find out more about Tom by visiting his bio page on IndianaArtisan.org or by visiting BeeTreePottery.com.

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Written by : Marcie is a senior Electronic Journalism and PR major from Dyer, Indiana. She has internship experience at Susan G. Komen of Central Indiana and WISH-TV 8 in Indianapolis. Marcie is a member of the Butler Dance Team, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and is the Vice President of the Society of Professional Journalists. Read posts from our other Butler Bloggers here.