Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Collar or Jug Stacker?

Jug stacker or collar fused to the top of a jug. Courtesy, Alexandria Archaeology Museum.
I have a technical quandary I would like some input on. In working on my kiln furniture project, I have been struggling with whether to call the pieces placed on top of jugs for stacking in the kiln "collars" or "jug stackers."  My hesitation to use the term "collar" would be because the term “collaring” is used in referring to the pottery technique used to make the neck of a bottle. However, because of that too, I would option to use collar because the piece in question is placed on the jug where collaring begins at the shoulder of the jug. The collar goes on the collar of the jug.
And my hesitation to use the term “jug stacker,” as did Georgeanna Greer, is because it seems like a misleading term that does not fit its function. It does assist in the stacking of the jugs, but it by itself is not a "stacker" and is not stacked without being a part of another piece of pottery. Does that make sense, or am I looking too far into this?
Drawing made by Mike Heindl -- incomplete, not with all of the furniture! But just showing how the collars sat on top of the jugs and the jugs then stacked on one another.

This is the hole where the stacker/collar sits over the handle. This unfortunate piece was a bit overfired, or had too much weight on it, and it slumped making the collar/stacker stick to it. Courtesy, Alexandria Archaeology Museum.
For those of you still wondering what in the world I am talking about:
A jug stacker or collar was placed on the top of a jug in order to allow for an easier stacking method. Small bits of kiln furniture were placed on he bottom of the piece between the jug and the stacker/collar. I have also seen these pieces dipped in a white, sandy slip where the piece would come in contact with the pottery, assuming that the sand would keep the piece from sticking to the vessel. A hole was cut into the side in order to go over the handle. As opposed to saggars which are completely enclosed a jug stacker has a hole that goes above the bottle neck. Stackers/collars are also much shorter and smaller than saggars and tend to have angled sides or rounded edges (keeps the contact points to a minimal).
Collar/Jug Stacker from Rockbridge Baths Pottery Site, Virginia. Courtesy, Washington and Lee University Anthropology Department.
Do let me know whether you think it should be referred to as a "jug stacker" or a "collar"!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Festive Ceramics

Courtesy, Ceramics in America
How do ceramics celebrate the holidays? Festively, of course!
Courtesy, The Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts and Hal Pugh
And what do nerdy potters get for Christmas? Old pots! I was very excited to find this under our little tree this morning! I have a particular affection for ovoid, salt-glazed bottles, and this little guy (well, he's actually pretty big) adds to my Southern pieces!
I hope your holidays are all going well, it has only started cooling off here in North Carolina, so no exciting snow to report!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Bottle Stacking

Coutesy, The Museum of the Cape Fear, Fayetteville, NC
 It was a very exciting day researching a small collection at the Museum of the Cape Fear here in North Carolina. I got to see a stacking method for bottles that I have not seen such solid evidence for yet. For the most part, I have only seen evidence of using stackers, or larger saggar-like pieces for stacking bottles.
Let me see if I can make sense of what I saw today:

Meet Exhibit A:
Coutesy, The Museum of the Cape Fear, Fayetteville, NC
Meet Exhibit B:
Coutesy, The Museum of the Cape Fear, Fayetteville, NC
When A meets B:

Coutesy, The Museum of the Cape Fear, Fayetteville, NC
Coutesy, The Museum of the Cape Fear, Fayetteville, NC
Look at the top of this handle piece, you can see the halo of a small circle:

Coutesy, The Museum of the Cape Fear, Fayetteville, NC
Here is my idea of how the bar was put on top of the bottle rim with a small pad on top of the handle to balance it out:

My sketch
Another bar in the collection may be evidence of how long the bars were.

Coutesy, The Museum of the Cape Fear, Fayetteville, NC
 I found the pinches at the center of the bar, as well as other bars, very interesting. I have yet to see other bars with pinches on the sides.
Coutesy, The Museum of the Cape Fear, Fayetteville, NC
Excellent find!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Winter firing

Kiln loaded up
Well, it's not officially winter, but it sure felt like winter today! I found a good internet connection at the place where I was firing a salt kiln today and put numerous photos on Facebook of the firing. For those of you not on Facebook, I thought I would share here too!
I loaded the kiln yesterday and as it was a gas kiln, candled it overnight. I arrived early this morning in order to turn it up and get things going. When the kiln is cool (below 2000 Fahrenheit) you can make out pieces pretty well and see how things are going.
This photo was taken of the bottom of the kiln at around 1400 Fahrenheit. You can make out the side of a pitcher on the right, an ornament behind the cones, and the rim of a small flowerpot behind the ornament.

This photo was taken of the top of the kiln at around 1600 Fahrenheit. It is hard for my camera to adjust with the higher temperatures, particularly in the top where it always seems to be cloudier than the bottom. I think this has to do with the salt which has begun to flux off of the walls, creating the cloudiness.
This was my first firing in which the top of the kiln was cooler, or behind in getting to temperature, than the bottom. It always seems to be the case that the top will soar past the bottom, or the bottom will stall out, but I think because I placed a short shelf below the top shelf, this caused a hiccup in the temperature rise to the top.

Ornaments getting ready to be fired
I made a few ornaments this go-around to see how they would turn out.

This is a good shot of the top of an ornament just after I finished the firing. If you look closely you can see the orange-peel surface of the salt on the top of the ornament, as well as the rim of the small flowerpot behind it.

Finally, I said goodnight to the salty beast and will be back to unload on Wednesday!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Name for the Farm!

Over the summer we purchased a farm. We have settled on a name for our farm! We have named the farm Emmaus Farm. Our focus is growing small grains, dry beans and garden vegetables using sustainable practices. The photograph above is of the wheat which was planted recently. The farm is named after the 18th-century Moravian agricultural community just southwest of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. When I was working on my Master's thesis on the Moravian potters in Bethlehem, I drove through Emmaus quite often. My other half and I have been impressed with the industriousness and culture of the 18th-century Moravians. When I was also working on my thesis we discovered that both of our families had Moravian connections. Very exciting!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Slip Testing

In getting ready for Joseph Sand's kiln firing I made a bottle in order to test some slips in his kiln atmosphere. Normally most of my pottery has turned fairly dark in the reduction, so I put a layer of white porcelain slip as a base all over the bottle. I then carved away at some points to reveal the clay body. Then I painted with cobalt blue slip and a red slip.
The red slip which looks reddish-brown in the photo below turned very brown in the kiln and reacted well to the salt.
Red slip on the flower at the base

Results of the red slip
The blue slip which you can see on the leaves at the top of the bottle worked out really well over the porcelain slip. The blue slip looks purplish-gray in the photo below.

Blue slip looks purplish-gray at the top of the bottle

The blue followed the path of the flame
The carved away area had some nice orange-peeling where the salt glazed the surface.
Overall, the bottle was wonderful, and I was happy with the results. Now to decide whether to hold on to it for a little while or sell it right away!

Monday, November 14, 2011

STOLEN Gravemarker

Stolen Gravemarker
I received an unfortunate e-mail from the North Carolina Museum Council this morning. If you know of anyone to forward this information to in order to keep an eye out for it on the market or elsewhere, please do. I hope this piece finds its way back home.
1834 SGSW handmade pottery gravemarker made by Solomon Loy in 1834, from the Cane Creek Friends Burial Ground of Alamance County, NC, after nearly 180 years in place. If you have any news of it or hear of anyone who's seen it please pass the word to the Cane Creek Friends Meeting in Snow Camp, NC or to the Alamance County, NC Sheriff's Department. Theft is a real problem with the pottery grave markers.

If you have any information please contact:Alamance Sheriff’s Office 109 S Maple St, Graham, NC 27253

(336) 513-6317 Cane Creek Friends Meeting in Snow Camp:http://www.canecreekfriends.com/home.html336-376-6880

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Kiln Shift

O' Dark Thirty this morning with the kiln firing
I worked a kiln shift at Joseph Sand's anagama kiln this morning starting at 5:00 am. It was a rewarding, exhausting day!

Salting the kiln
It was a warm morning standing in front of the kiln. I was the person stoking at the front of the kiln. When I got to the kiln a little before 5:00, Joseph had the kiln rolling around 2400, with stoking around 2380. We held the temperature through mid-morning when we salted around 10:30 or 11:00.

Joseph pulled one of my mugs out of the kiln to check the salt and glazes. I think it looks pretty good! I'm excited to see what the rest of the kiln looks like! And the photos below are shots of the interior of the kiln while it was crash cooling.
You can see the edges of my dishes at the side of the shelves

Peeks of the tops of pitchers

Sides of the dishes

Joseph's pots

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Little Update and a Laugh

First shelf stack in back
Yesterday I helped Joseph Sand start loading his anagama kiln. I'm heading out there today as well and we will be firing this coming weekend. It's a lot of work to load these big beasty kilns, but it's rewarding all the same.

Working our way up
For your laugh:
As a potter, the movie "Ghost" is the bane of my existence when trying to demonstrate. Do any other potters feel this way, or just try to laugh EVERY TIME someone asks? On the note of "Ghost" however, my other half sent me this link which I thought you all might enjoy. It's a good laugh.

Friday, November 4, 2011

New Photography

I have been trying to take better photographs and created a photo booth using the tips given by D. Michael Coffee on their blog. I am appreciative to D. Michael Coffee for sharing this detailed information as well as to the Carolina Clay Guild for forwarding the link for photo help. Don't mind the black edges on these photos, I was formatting them in square, but wanted to share them with you after I had edited them a little.
I would show you a photo of my own set up of this, but I am embarrased by mess which currently surrounds the improvised photo booth. So you will have to deal with the photos on the aforementioned link. I have to work on getting the lighting better with dishes, and getting the right angle for pitchers and other taller vessels. But overall, I think I am off to a good start!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Busy days

Busy days at Liberty Stoneware!

Me in presentation mode before things got started
Last week was my presentation at the Randolph County Arts Guild on my historic kiln research. It was well attended and there were many great questions from the audience. I am especially grateful for the opportunity to start formulating some thoughts about my research and getting some of it on paper.

Inside at the pottery festival
A few weekends ago I was at the Greensboro Curb Farmer's Market for the Triad Pottery Festival. I had a new location this time and got to try out my new sign which came in the mail the other day. Always good to talk to potters and make new acquaintances.

My booth layout-- check out the new sign on the wall!

Smattering of wares
And if that wasn't enough to be going on, this past weekend was an event I have been helping coordinate for several months now at our local museum, the Patterson Cottage Museum. We had a Heritage Festival, which, despite the nasty weather in the morning, was decently attended and I think rather well for our first year.
Inside the Patterson Cottage Museum

Outside the Patterson Cottage Museum at the Heritage Festival
I am working on getting pots thrown for a firing with Joseph Sand. We are loading next week. I am doing a combination of single-fired pieces as well as bisqued ware, so we will see what happens!