Each pot starts …
as a lump of clay that is either thrown or slab built.
Myself and resident potter produce pots for about two weeks.
These pots are trimmed, dried, bisque fired in an electric kiln to about 1800 degrees, and then the bottoms are waxed and pots glazed.
The glaze process takes about a week, then pots are loaded in the kiln (takes one day) and fired the next day to about 2350 degrees (takes about 13 hours). Pots are unloaded two days later.
The whole process …
takes about 3 weeks. I fire in a large 60 cu. ft. gas kiln. Much of the magic takes place in the firing process.
We open the kiln about every three weeks and have kiln openings, inviting all to see our latest creations!
The earliest salt glaze pots date back to the 14th century Germany. They were characterized by their stamped decorations and cobalt blue decorations. By the 17th and 18th century England had become well known for their high quality salt glazed domestic ware, and by the 19th century it was the most popular house hold pottery in North America. The style started to die out, but was re-popularized by folk potters in the Northern Carolina area, and by English potters like Benard Leach.
Salt glazed pots can often be recognized by their "orange peel" surface. Un-glazed salted pots will have a very thin layer of glaze produced by the salt that is introduced into the kiln along with some flashing from the way the flames hit the pots. Decorative slips and glazes are often times used in conjunction with the glaze that is formed in the firing.
To salt glaze a pot you have to bring the kiln up to a temperature where the clay is ready to bond with the salt, which is usually around 2000 degrees Fehrenheit. The salt is introduced into the kiln and then it is vaporized, breaks down into sodium and chloride, bonds with the clay and then exits the kiln as salt vapor. Typically the potter will add anywhere from 2-15 pounds of salt depending on the desired effect. Pots are often times glazed on the inside where the salt will not reach. Salt fired pots rely on the unpredictable nature of the process to define the outside of the pots.