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Pottery by JD James

a chat with JD ~ what jars were made ~ jar images

It’s always an interesting story on how one starts their business or what makes them create their art. JD’s story is a little different than most artists. Basically he saw a niche and decided to fill it.

Jackie-O Cookie Jar

While living in Florida (pre-1990) JD and wife Pat painted and sold pieces of greenware to flower shops and florists. He decided to try making a mold using a set of characters he purchased. While many of us would feel we would have to take a class or two to figure out how to do something entirely new, JD went to the library, got a book and learned how to make ceramic/plaster molds.

They decided to move back to Buckeye Lake Ohio, where they purchased a small cottage,  set up shop with the molds they had and started Pottery by J D. Their initial offerings were selling small pieces to ceramic shops and florists, but that all changed when he attended a cookie jar auction in Zanesville, Ohio. While chatting with folks he mentioned he made ceramic molds, a little while later a gentleman approached and asked if he would make a cookie jar mold for him. 

As JD says, “He brought me a McCoy Mammy that I thought should have been put in the garbage can, but it was his money. He wanted “Them Cookies Shore Am Good” on the lower part of the jar — and that was my introduction to the commemorative cookie jar market.”

Dem Cookies Mammy
McCoy Reproduction Mammy

Later JD was approached by two dealers that had an original Brush Hillbilly Frog cookie jar. He made the molds for them and that was the end of his business dealings with them. He doesn’t how many they sold.

JD continues:
I decided to make molds of other cookie jars and purchased a cookie jar book. I was amazed at the different cookie jars that had been produced in Zanesville.  I found that all of the cookie jar producing pottery companies were out of business and most of them had not patented or copyrighted the rights to the jars. I also found that there was a very large collectible cookie market all over the U S A. Collectors are very loyal, they don’t mind buying a commemorative jar, but frown on reproductions of the same jar. Most of the jars I have made were sold to collector dealers. 

It was a short time later that JD and his wife Pat started creating jars, his first set was the five piece Popeye set that consisted of Popeye, Olive Oyl, Sweetpea, Bluto and Wimpy. Bluto (aka Brutus) was the first jar, then he restructured Olive Oyl, and sculpted Wimpy. This set has been his best seller.

One of his favorite pieces is the Peek-a-Boo jar that has matching salt and peppers in both large and small sizes. This is also the only jar that has ever been returned by a customer.

The reason? The red did not compliment her kitchen decor.

Patricia does all the artwork on the jars, is also self-taught and is very talented. Although her favorite jar is Jacki-O, they said they get such great pleasure in each jar they make, it’s hard to pick favorites.

Getting the molds: 
When asked how he obtained the original jars to make the molds, JD said many of the jars he purchased, but that there was also a large antique dealer in Zanesville that would “rent” him the jar to make the mold and then it would be returned to the dealer.

When making a reproduction it’s made from the original jar which makes it reduced in size. The new mold is about ¾” of an inch smaller. JD did not add clay to the bottom or top of the jar to keep the right size, as others have done. He said that would be really obvious. 

Bottom line is subtact ¾” inch from the original size and it’s a reproduction  Unfortunately to add to the confusion, according to JD, he knew of  some potteries in the old days who would downsize their originals when re-makiing a piece, and they would then be “reproduction” size. 

When JD and Pat started producing the jars, the reproduction problem that we see today had not started. There are some that might say the problem started them, but times were different. 

When faced with wanting e.g. an American Bisque Mohawk Indian, most collectors could not afford to pay thousands for the original jar, nor was it easily found. The JD version was still costly, selling for $250 -$300 and collectors purchasing it were just happy to have the representation in their collection. 

The general consensus of collectors who purchased his reproduction or commemorative jars at the time did not do it with the intention of deceiving, nor did he sell them with that in mind. 


Pottery by JD Pig

He was always been upfront about the jars and never claimed that his were originals — if he did, he could have sold them for much more.JD’s jars were always well made and often finished better than the originals! The best way to tell the difference is the size. JD says his jars are always about 3/4″ smaller than the originals and are usually marked JD on the bottom, but at times he left the JD off when a customer requested it.

JD and Pat moved back to Florida in 2001, where they made a few vases and some Art Deco work Over the years JD said they have made over 87 different jars and unapologetically said
Would we do it again, you betcha”

a chat with JD ~ what jars were made ~ jar images