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!