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montefin's Salt Glaze Pottery

Click to see pots produced in this salt kiln at the Tucson Museum of Art.

About the 15th Century AD, stoneware with a unique mottled and pebbled (orange peel) surface began to appear in Germany. Known variously as salt glaze pottery, salt fired pottery, or simply salt pottery, it results from a single firing of well dried greenware pots at stoneware temperatures (1200 to 1400 C.) with the introduction of large quantities of common salt into the kiln at the white heat stage.

The salt is instantly volitalized into its component elements of Sodium (Na) and Chlorine (Cl). The gaseous chlorine escapes in a deadly plume through the chimney, but the ionized sodium combines directly with the silica (SiO2) of the clay and literally turns the skin of the pots into glass. Kiln workers were known to climb atop the roaring kilns and whiff the lethal chlorine fumes as a sure cure for the sniffles. Go figure!

Salt fire (salt glazed) vase with sgraffito decoration thru rutile stain and sharkskin glaze accents SGRAFFITO VASE

One day while trimming some pots in the pot yard at the Tucson Museum of Art, I saw a guy named Paul Sires (sp?) lugging stuff out to where four gas jets had recently been installed. "Whatcha doing?" I asked. "Building a salt kiln," he said. "By yourself?" "Everybody else backed out." "What the hell," I said, "I'll be your goon. Just tell me what to do."

Together we handbuilt the kiln you see here. In exchange for my help, Paul promised me the best places in the kiln for the first firing. He also gave me a crash course in salt fired pottery because we fired that night! You should have seen us scrabbling on the red hot, smoking kiln when the chimney proved too short and we had to add another couple of pottery cylinders!

Luckily, I had some greenware ready, one of which was the Sgraffito Vase shown here.

Too see More Salt Glaze Pottery click here. To go to the Main Pottery Page to see other types of pottery click START.

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