When I was a kid, we visited relatives in Kentucky. I remember the horses. But it was my recent travels to the Bluegrass State that introduced me to three delights appreciated in that commonwealth: hot browns, Kentucky lemonade (with Maker’s Mark) and M.A. Hadley clayware. In fact, I can think of no better way to enjoy hot browns and spiked lemonade than served on a Hadley plate and in a Hadley julep cup.
Fortunately, I can order a set directly from the Hadley Pottery Company. (Until now, this delightful stoneware was only available through a limited number of retailers.)
For those of you unfamiliar with the charms of this cheerful, whimsical pottery, Mary Alice Hadley, or M.A., designed and fired her own set of dinnerware in 1939 for use on her family’s houseboat. Friends requested pieces, and a pottery design business was born.
In 1952, Mary Alice’s “Hot Brown Fleck” pattern won a good design award from the Museum of Modern Art.
While she passed away in 1965, artists trained by M.A.’s proteges continue the tradition.
Visiting the Hadley museum and factory in Louisville is a Derby week tradition, as shoppers expand their collections in preparation for their lavish parties. There you can also see how the pottery is made, using clay from Kentucky and Indiana and glazes compounded on site, including the signature “Hadley Blue.”