You’ll normally find the Mug of the Month series over on YMBFA. This one deserves to be here.
If you were making pottery commercially (Wedgewood, Royal Dalton et al) in the UK up until the mid-1950s, you would fire your product in a coal-fired “bottle” kiln.
Horrendously pollutant and when a town like Stoke-on-Trent was working at full capacity, hundreds of them would be pumping out so much smoke and particulate matter that you could hardly see your hand in front of your face.
The pots themselves were protected from the grime and uneven heat by saggars – fireclay containers – which were then stacked in the kiln.
The Clean Air Act of 1956 (as a result of the Great London Fog, which killed 16,000 people) made bottle kilns (and saggars) obsolete overnight
Frank the Potter makes series of domestic ware at his pottery in the Hunsrück, turning plate after plate and bowl after bowl to perfection.
He got creative the other week and thought ” I wonder what it would be like to recreate life inside a traditional, dirty kiln – forcibly expose the pot to the elements?”
So he made himself a saggar, threw some beakers and slipped them inside and around the rim with his standard glaze, leaving the exterior untouched.
Then he got some copper wire, wrapped it around the beakers, put small dishes of salt in the saggar and packed it with wood wool.
This is the result.
Two beakers from different angles, showing where the heat licked around the pots and where the copper vaporised, tattooing the unglazed clay and slightly colouring the rim.
He was in two minds.
He’d been hoping for something different.
I took them both…