Since the early 60's the Paoli Company in "beautiful downtown Paoli" has provided
materials equipment and expertise to a growing number of ceramic artists and students.
Paoli Clay supplies elementary and secondary schools, universities and studios from Lake
Geneva to LaCrosse, Door County to Des Moines, Iowa.
Paoli Clay Company was begun by University of Wisconsin-Madison ceramics
professor Harvey Littleton to supply the art program more conveniently. Prof. Littleton
went on to become a key figure in the revival of American art glass and Paoli Clay
offered glassblowing tools for many years as a sideline. In 1962 Dave Jacobs came to
work for Littleton, and in 1967 Littleton sold him the company in order to concentrate on
teaching and glassblowing. Paoli Clay Company's long association with UW's ceramics
has led many graduates to continue relying the company as they became teachers and
studio potters in the area.
Paoli Clay Company's raw materials are not mined locally, but are shipped in from large
deposits in Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky Tennessee and elsewhere where the clays are
mined, dried and processed. At the company two or more different clays are blended
with water in a de-aired mill which compresses the reconstituted material into tubes for
weighing and packaging. Over the years the original "Goldart" stoneware and "Redart
earthenware were joined by standard bodies formulated for Madison Area Technical
College, the Madison Potters' Guild and Don Reitz, former UW professor and one of the
premiere ceramic artists in the world today. Special clay bodies are also made to order
for many customers.
Yet even more than the growing list of clays, glazes, potter's wheels, kilns and tools
available at Paoli Company, central to its success for over 30 plus years has been
owner/operator Dave Jacobs himself. His easy-going manner, friendly humor and
personal interest in his customers has earned him great love an loyalty among his
clientele. He extended generous credit terms to struggling artists and went out of his way
to help them be successfully established. Dave always enjoyed being with the artists as
people, not merely as business contacts, and at a national ceramics conference or a
gallery showing or just a long lunch, Dave was at the center of good times.
Unfortunately , in 1994 Dave Jacobs suffered a severe brain injury which left him
unable to continue operating Paoli Clay Company. His son Mike took leave from his
career to manage the company and subsequently bought it, continuing to provide income
for his parents and ceramic supplies throughout southern Wisconsin and beyond. The
Paoli Clay Company is grateful to its loyal customers for their support through this
transition and looks forward to serving their needs for many years to come.