"NEW POTTER BUILDING A WARE OVEN"

THE DOWNSIDE OF OWNING A 2200 DEGREE WOOD BURNING KILN

AFTER MANY YEARS RESEARCHING STONEWARE, IT'S ORIGIN, THE MAKERS AND THEIR STORIES, TWO THINGS HAVE RUNG TRUE CONSISTENTLY. 


THE FIRST IS, THAT MAKING STONEWARE WAS NO WALK IN THE PARK. 


FIND A LOCATION WITH WATER, CUSTOMERS, SPACE, HARDWOOD TREES, A SOURCE OF CLAY OR A ROAD TO GET TO A SOURCE, WORKERS AND A SALT LICK. THEN CHOP TWELVE CORDS OF HARDWOOD, GET THE WATER PIPED TO YOUR LOCATION, MINE AND CLEAN THE SALT, GET THE CLAY TO YOUR LOCATION, CLEAN THE CLAY OF ALL IMPURITIES USING A PUG MILL YOU BUILT YOURSELF, BUILD THE POTTERY, BUILD THE KILN, BUILD THE DRYING AND DECORATION RACKS AND FIND SOME COBALT AND ALBANY SLIP GLAZE. THEN SPEND THE WINTER TRYING TO STAY WARM AND FEEDING YOUR FAMILY, BUT MOST IMPORTANTLY, THROWING POTTERY ON A KICK WHEEL YOU BUILT YOURSELF FOR 12 TO 14 HOURS A DAY. SPRING COMES AND IT'S TIME FINALLY TO SPARK THE KILN WHICH COULD NOT BE FIRED ALL WINTER BECAUSE OF TEMPERATURE LOSS. DECORATE THE DRIED POTTERY AND GLAZE EACH PIECE. LOAD INTO THE KILN USING EVERY SQUARE INCH OF SPACE. STOKE THE FIRE TO 2200 DEGREES WHICH MAY TAKE A DAY IN ITSELF. JUDGING BY EYE AND FEEL, WHEN THE FIRE IS HOT ENOUGH, CLOSE THE DOOR AND LET IT BURN SOMETIMES FOR A COUPLE MORE DAYS. JUDGE BY EXPERIENCE THE TIME IT'S BEEN FIRED AND JUST AT THE RIGHT TIME OPEN THE HATCH ON TOP AND THROW A COUPLE BUCKETS OF SALT IN THERE. TRY NOT TO INHALE THE NOXIOUS FUMES YOU ARE NOT AWARE ARE POISONOUS. LET THINGS COOL, OPEN THE DOOR AND HATCH. DON'T BURN YOURSELF FOR THE THIRD TIME TODAY. OFFLOAD THE STONEWARE AND DON'T GET TOO UPSET WHEN THERE ARE 16 PIECES THAT BROKE APART OR BLEW UP DUE TO MINERAL DEPOSIT EXPLOSIONS, AND DON'T GET UPSET AT THE 8 OTHER PIECES THAT THEY BROKE WHEN THAT HAPPENED.


SO YOU SEE...IT'S NO WALK IN THE PARK. THESE WERE HARD PEOPLE WHO WORKED HARD.

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BUT YOU MIGHT END UP WITH THIS!

THE UPSIDE OF OWNING A 2200 DEGREE WOOD BURNING KILN

THERE HAS TO BE AN UPSIDE THOUGH...RIGHT? 


SURE THERE IS. IF YOU DID EVERYTHING CORRECTLY...YOU MIGHT HAVE THIS AS AN END PRODUCT TO SELL. CLAY CLEANED PROPERLY, KILN FIRED AT THE RIGHT TEMPERATURE FOR JUST THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF TIME, THE RIGHT AMOUNT OF SALT TOSSED IN THE KILN AT JUST THE RIGHT TIME WHICH WAS GROUND AND CLEANED PROPERLY, THE RIGHT GLAZE WHICH YOU MIXED YOURSELF APPLIED PROPERLY AND OF COURSE THE KILN STACKING DONE IN A WAY NOTHING COULD BREAK EVERYTHING INSIDE....CAUSE SOMETHING IS GOING TO EXPLODE AND IT WILL BREAK SOMETHING.

AWESOME RIGHT? YOU BET BECAUSE A NICE PITCHER LIKE THE ONES IN THE PICTURE ABOVE MIGHT SELL FOR OH...23 CENTS OR MAYBE 48 CENTS ON A GOOD DAY.


YEAH...LABOR INTENSIVE.

RESEARCH

YOUR PUBLIC LIBRARY HAS MANY BOOKS ON EARLY 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY POTTERIES IN AMERICA. START YOUR RESEARCH THERE AND DISCOVER HOW TOUGH ...TOUGH CAN BE.

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OR.... IT MAY END UP LIKE THIS!

OH YES....THE SECOND THING...


THE FATE OF SO MANY 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY POTTERIES ENDED IN DISASTROUS WAYS.

KILNS EXPLODING, FIRES AND DEATH BY INHALATION OF NOXIOUS FUMES. BY FAR THE GREATEST NUMBER OF DOCUMENTED POTTERY DISASTERS WAS FIRE. POTTERIES CAUGHT FIRE QUITE A BIT AND THERE ARE MANY GREAT STORIES ABOUT THE POTTERS AND THE FIRES THAT ENDED THEIR BUSINESSES AND ONES THAT SURVIVED THEM.

THERE ARE STORIES OF POTTERS BUILDING THEIR POTTERIES IN TOWN WITH THE WOODEN BUILDING NOT BUT A FEW FEET OTHERS IN TOWN. 


ONE STORY REGALES ONE POTTER WHO ANSWERED AN AD FOR A TOWN IN NEED OF A POTTER WHO COULD MAKE STONEWARE. YOU SEE, IN THE 1800'S TOWN WOULD OFTEN ADVERTISE FOR NEEDED OCCUPATIONS SUCH AS DOCTORS, PHARMACISTS OR IN THIS CASE A POTTER. WITH THE ADVENT OF STRONGER STONEWARE WHICH WAS MARKEDLY BETTER THAN THE BRITTLE AND MORE POROUS RED CLAY WARE, STONEWARE WAS ALL THE RAGE AND TOWNS SOMETIMES HAD DIFFICULTY GETTING IT. SO SOMETIMES THEY ADVERTISED!


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GET OUT OF TOWN!

A PLACE OF HIS OWN

A TRAINED POTTER, PERHAPS EMERGING FROM AN APPRENTICESHIP, ANSWERS THE AD.


AS A SIDE NOTATION HERE, AN APPRENTICESHIP IN THE 18TH AND 19TH CENTURY WAS USUALLY A BINDING CONTRACT BETWEEN GUARDIANS OF A YOUNG PERSON, AND SOMEONE IN NEED OF A WORKER. SOMETIMES THIS MEANT THAT YOUNG PEOPLE WOULD, AT THE ADOLESCENT AGE OF 12 OR SO BE CONTRACTED INTO AN APPRENTICESHIP WHERE BY THEY WOULD BE TRAINED IN A VOCATION BY THE MASTER IN EXCHANGE FOR ROOM & BOARD, FOOD AND EDUCATION. THESE WERE BINDING FOR YEARS AT A TIME AND WOULD FINALLY END AT THE MATURITY OF THE APPRENTICE. YUP....CHILDREN AT WORK...HARD WORK.


THE POTTER IN OUR STORY, ARRIVES IN TOWN AND IS GREETED WITH OPEN ARMS BY THE TOWNSPEOPLE. THEY OFFER HIM A FREE BUILDING IN TOWN TO BUILD HIS POTTERY IN EXCHANGE FOR HIM STAYING ON AND WITH THE PROMISE OF MAKING STONEWARE FOR THE RESIDENTS AT A REASONABLE RATE.


THE POTTER SETS TO WORK IMMEDIATELY AND AFTER SIX MONTHS OF BACK BREAKING WORK COMPLETES THE POTTERY. AFTER A BRUTAL WINTER, SPRING ARRIVES AND THE POTS, FLASKS, JUGS AND CROCKS ARE ALL POTTED AND READY FOR FIRING. THE KILN IS SPARKED AND TOWNSPEOPLE EXCITEDLY WATCH AS THE BILLOWS OF NOXIOUS SMOKE RISE FROM THE GIANT CHIMNEY OF THE KILN. ASIDE FROM THE AWFUL SMELL, THE SPARKS ATTEMPT TO ESCAPE THE KILN OVEN SEVERAL TIMES BUT ARE CAUGHT AND STAMPED OUT ON THE WOODEN FLOOR BY THE POTTER AND EXTINGUISHED. THERE ARE MANY PEOPLE WATCHING AT THE WINDOW OF THE POTTERY, AMAZED AT THE ACTIVITY INSIDE, WHEN THEN, THE FIRE CRACKLES LOUDLY AND SPEWS SPARKS EVERYWHERE. SOME GO UP THE CHIMNEY AND BOUNCE ATOP THE ROOF NEXT DOOR AND .....WELL TO MAKE A LONG DISASTER SHORT...HALF THE TOWN BURNS DOWN.

THE POTTER IS REMOVED FROM WHAT LEFT OF THE TOWN FOLLOWING THE FIRE AND IS RELEGATED TO A SMALL FARM A MILE FROM TOWN. HEADLINES IN THE LOCAL GAZETTE READ; 


"TOWN TO POTTER: GET OUT OF TOWN!"


JUST ANOTHER DAY IN THE LIFE OF A POTTER AND THE BIRTH OF A GREAT SAYING.

"BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!"