These are questions that we frequently hear at craft shows or in the shop. If you have other questions, please contact us.
Is the pottery food safe? Most stoneware (pottery fired above 2000 F) produced in the U.S. is free from lead or other toxic heavy metals that might leach into foods. There are test kits out there (we do not have them) in case you already have questionable pottery. Our pottery is food safe.
Can we microwave your pottery? Yes. Your food or beverage microwaved will heat the container but not usually a handle.
Can we bake with your pottery and what's the highest temperature the pottery can withstand? Yes, you can bake with our pottery, but you should not pre-heat your oven. Let the pottery and contents heat up from room temperature with the oven. With pie plates, for example, this adds about 10 minutes to the baking time, but you will be pleased with the results. Do not take pottery from the refrigerator or freezer to the oven! If heated with the oven there, your oven cannot produce enough heat to harm the pottery - no max! Please avoid use on surface units, broilers, and toaster ovens.
What does the fish on the bottom of your pots mean? We're glad you asked! The fish is the ancient symbol for Jesus Christ. During times of persecutions Christians would draw a fish in the dirt as a sign of safety. When Jim was called to do the pottery full-time in 1992, he felt that it was time to give the Creator credit for the processes - the pottery process and the disciple process.
Where do you get your clay? We buy our clay ready to use from Laguna Clay Company. They have a manufacturing plant in Byesville, OH (near Cambridge) where mined clays from many locations are mixed, refined and de-aired. The clay comes in 50 lb. boxes. We use a brown clay with specks (WC608) and a white clay (WC610). Buying the clay like this provides consistency in color, shrinkage (12.5) and absorbation (compatible with glazes) that ensures being able to match pieces done over the years. It also affords Jim time at the wheel, rather than processing clay.
What is the pottery process?
Refined and de-aired clay is weighed out and brought to the potter’s wheel. For production purposes an electric wheel is used. The clay is centered and opened. The wall is then brought up and shaped by its flow through the fingers of the potter. Once the piece has been finished at the wheel, it is set aside to dry to the point of leather hard. It is then trimmed, carved, or has handles added. The completed piece must air dry completely before it is placed in a kiln for the bisque firing (to 1800 degrees). It takes 8-10 hours to reach temperature and approximately the same amount of time to cool. The piece then is glazed (a glass formula suspended in water). Because the clay has not yet been fired to maturity, it absorbs the water and the powdered glass adheres to the piece. In our process the glaze is either poured on or the piece is dipped in the bucket of glaze. It is then fired once more in the kiln (to 2150 degrees F). At that temperature the clay and glaze melt together at the point of vitrification. The firing process stops at that point (usually 9 hours). The cooling takes almost 12 hours. The kiln is emptied and pieces are priced and inventoried. Non-ceramic parts, such as collars for soap dispensers or hurricane lamps, are glued to those pieces after firings are complete.
Do you give classes? Jim gives one-on-one lessons to high school students and adults. They usually last one hour, although if the student has not had any experience, he recommends a 2 hour lesson to start. Schedule is worked out with the student for once-a-week, if possible. Cost of the lessons are $30.00 per hour, which includes all materials and firings. The student is not obligated beyond the first lesson and can discontinue at any time. Jim will teach all the processes as far as the student wants to go.