Monday, June 13, 2011

90-Foot Long Kiln

Morning light on the hilltop kiln site
A quick post from South Carolina:
You read the title correctly: 90 feet! The kiln here in Pottersville is approximately 90 feet long. The ware chamber is 9 1/2 feet wide and an estimation of the interior height is no more than 4 1/2 feet. There appears to be a slight rise from the firing chamber to the chimney, but I have not looked at the elevations yet to compare them. If you think about it though, the dimensions would not leave a lot of room but for about 400-600 pots, and if many of them were large-capacity storage jars and jugs, the number may have been a lot less. With four documented potters working at this site, producing daily, I think they could have filled and fired the kiln once or twice a month easily.
At the front of the kiln there are approximately six course of brick supporting the side walls

The base wall rises only several feet before the large arch bricks begin

The arch bricks are not red clay brick, and measure approximately 8 1/2 inches square and 3 1/2 inches thick

Here is where I need some input: Has anyone come across really long tunnel-style kilns (groundhog-like) in Gemany or France? While I realize that right off the bat the first thing which comes to mind is an Asian design, I am keeping in mind Terry Zug's (Turners and Burners) comparison of the groundhog-style kiln to the Cassel kilns in Germany and the Newcastle kilns of England, but I do not know whether the lengths of those types of kilns have ever been recorded at 90 feet! I am also looking at the prospect of kilns used for firing brick which may have been used for pottery, or could have been used for pottery. There are numerous designs patented in Germany and England from the mid-19th-century for tunnel kilns used to fire bricks which are quite large.

This is a rim or neck and shoulder of a vessel with a large piece of wadding, or possibly crumbled arch brick
While these styles of kilns do not have a lot of kiln furniture like saggars or setters, there is some evidence of wadding between or underneath vessels. I am not one-hundred percent sure of this, but hope to see more of these pieces in the coming days!
Interior of vessel piece as shown in previous photo

Many of these pieces show the profile of what appears to be a base of a vessel and some fingerprints from handling


Ron said...

The big kilns in La Borne, France are the only ones I know of but I have no idea how long they were. Great to see these photos.

Liberty Stoneware said...

Ron, I've been thinking about the La Borne kilns, it appears they measure from 40 to 60 meters, which surpasses this kiln in SC. However, I also read that some, or all (I have not figured that out) of the kilns in La Borne do not have chimneys, which is interesting. I've also been seeing some photos of and information for tunnel kilns in England used for firing brick in the 19th-century.

Anonymous said...

There are similar long kilns (liegende Öfen, crossdraft kilns)from the region of Beauvais in France in the 19th century, but they all have no chimney. See: Alexandre Brongniart, Traité des arts céramiques ou des poteries considérées dans leur histoire, leur pratique et leur théorie 3. édition avec notes et additions par Alphonse Salvétat, Paris 1877, Taf. 38 Fig. 3.

Dr. Andreas Heege, Zug, Switzerland

Liberty Stoneware said...

Herr Heege, Thank you for your response to this blog post! I will be sure to pass this information on to those who excavated the kiln. I received your e-mail message and will be working to respond soon. It is good to hear from you!