Our Story

Oliver Greene (center) and other RISD students crafting Peter Pots pottery in the Meeting Street studio in 1948. Early partner Mary Ryan is at right.

Who is Peter Pots? He is an artist with ten hands, fifty skillful fingers, and an eye for functional beauty. In short he is five people, each intent on making the finest stoneware possible…
-excerpt from the 1960 catalog

Peter Pots Pottery was founded in 1948 by Oliver and Elizabeth Greene while students at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). These were exciting times for design students, with the Mid-Century Modern style sweeping the globe and finding eager acceptance. Studying Industrial Design and Fashion Illustration respectively, the couple’s studies translated to designing and crafting pottery that was beautiful, functional, and affordable, and they were soon at the vanguard of the American studio pottery movement.

What began as an enjoyable pursuit outside of RISD classes grew to become a business with a dedicated following. Working from a small studio on Meeting Street on College Hill, Peter Pots of Providence began selling their wares at RISD student sidewalk shows and from their tiny storefront. By 1950, and with a contract to make pottery bases for Gorham Silver Company, Peter Pots moved to a larger studio in a former carriage house on Benefit Street. As production demanded an even larger space, Peter Pots moved to Sheldon Street in West Warwick. At the time, wholesale orders accounted for much of the work, and Peter Pots was selling to Neiman Marcus, Holt Howard Associates, and other notable retailers. In 1954, the Greenes heard that the historic Glen Rock Mill in West Kingston, a former woolen and grist mill, was for sale. It is here that Peter Pots Pottery finally settled, and the pottery has been in continuous daily operation there ever since. Shops in Newport, Watch Hill and Warwick followed, but today we sell exclusively from the mill showroom in West Kingston and online.

 Elizabeth Greene checks the cones inside the kiln circa 1952.

Elizabeth Greene checks the cones inside the kiln circa 1952.

Oliver and Elizabeth Greene garnered many awards for their ceramic designs, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Good Design Show, the Syracuse Museum's Ceramic National and Wichita Museum shows. Their work is part of the permanent collection at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art. The greatest testament to their designs, however, are the thousands of people across the country who use and cherish their collections of Peter Pots pottery. Some are fourth-generation collectors; others are just finding us for the first time. Whatever the case may be, people love our stoneware for its timeless beauty, everyday usefulness, and lasting durability.

Very little has changed in our studio since 1948. The methods and design principles that founded Peter Pots Pottery are still used by our dedicated craftspeople today, and there are still five of us. Each of our designs evolves from concept, to sketch, to handcrafted master model, from which molds are created by hand. We blend our own stoneware clay to ensure the strength of the pottery, and formulate our own glazes to create a luster and color palette that is uniquely Peter Pots. We now have over 150 functional designs, many of which date back to the beginning, but new designs are always being developed and introduced. The result is pottery that you will admire at first glance and cherish more with use.