Even everyday items like a flower pot or chicken waterer were wonderfully executed
All the potteries in western Pennsylvania produced large, masculine pieces, whose bold rims and strong shoulders were a reflection of the men who made them. Occasional flaws never detracted from their honesty.
In the 1870s, as the region's stoneware industry peaked, it turned to stenciled decoration both to cut costs and to give its image a makeover. Countless patterns were applied to vessels at this time, at first incorporating the pottery's name and later displaying the names and addresses of new customers anxious to self-promote. The stenciled crock, often viewed as synonymous with southwestern Pennsylvania stoneware, lacked the spontaneity of brush-decorated ware but was a superior article economically. Ordinary day laborers could learn to use a stencil in a day or two. This technique foreshadowed the decline and demise of the master decorator, whose handiwork is rarely seen after 1880. The more interesting stencils showcased eagles, flowers, fruit, shields, animals, abstract patterns, and -- though rarely -- people in action. Well-designed stencils produced patterns that fascinate in their great variety.
This was taken from an article called Western Pennsylvania's Stoneware Potters by Phil Schaltenbrand, written for the Westmoreland Museum of American Art