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old salt kilns/big pots

updated fri 27 jul 07


mel jacobson on thu 26 jul 07

i have seen on occasion some old wine bottles
that came from europe(germany)....they are called `grey beards`..
salt fired, and they all have blemishes from were the
bottles touched each other in the, they were
probably tumble stacked.

we do know that many sewer tiles were salt fired.
and they were stacked end to end...piled up in the kilns.

i was fortunate to find out that there was a sewer tile
plant in our town of hopkins, minnesota at the turn of the
old know...1920 or so.

i swim with a man that is 97 years old, and he worked there
for a couple of summers as a youth...he said it was fired with coal, and
then they shoveled in the salt at the end of the firing..clouds
of vapor flew everywhere. he was a shovel guy. he claims the
tiles (tubes of clay) were just stacked in shelves..but
there was a system
for stacking so that only the ends touched.

it is obvious that you can get either gray salt, or orange salt...depending
on the clay body.

at our farm, most of the pots we fire in salt have a glaze coating
and then the alteration of the salt mixing with the glaze....we like
that best. i have never liked raw salt on my pots, but then, i am
a glaze guy. of the two hundred + pots fired in our wood kiln this summer,
i bet 85 percent had glaze on them. our group likes glaze surfaces...just
the way it is.

i have always held an opinion that big is not good, it is just big.
the scale a potter defines for his or her work is just that...your
own scale. small pots well designed, with perfect form are just as
valued as big pots. often big pots are a result of testosterone gone
amuck. my quote to senior boys. `remember, a big ugly pots is just
that...a huge ugly thing to look at...and big means you cannot miss it.`
a well designed pot of any size is valued.

that is one reason i started the `small teapot project`. get those
over zealous boys working on the `focus` of good design...tiny design.
a teapot the size of a walnut, that pours. now you have their attention.
then the whinnying starts...`mel, how can i make something that small, that
is hard to do.` `yes, i know...big ugly is easy.`

a great learning lesson for any potter is to make twenty pots...all the
same form and glaze...just add a quarter pound to each ball of clay.
measure carefully, and just make one after the other.
they grown in scale, but the form and quality of design remains the same.
my standard bowl shape can be made any size...from a half pound to twenty is the same bowl. just holds more potatoes.

from: mel/

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