Techniques and Experiments

Until he came to Williamsburg, Thorley was primarily a designer employed by large potteries, where he created decorative patterns and wrote precise specifications for the working potters. But he never stopped using the potting skills he first learned as a boy in Staffordshire. He was highly skilled at sculpting and turning clay, mixing glazes, and painting decoration by hand. He used these skills not only in Williamsburg to reproduce historic originals but also later as an independent potter making his own wares to sell. When Thorley passed away in 1987 his studio was jamb-packed with his tools and in-process projects. The molds, drawings, and failed experiments seen in this section provide a behind-the-scenes glimpse into Thorley’s prolific studio life.