Illustration by Maria Campbell Brent from McConnell, Kevin. Redware: America’s Folk Art Pottery. West Chester, PA: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd., 1988.
The clay that made early redware pieces was dug by hand and then allowed to weather for anywhere from a few hours to an entire winter. It was then cleaned of impurities in a small mill, after which it was kneaded by hand to remove air pockets.
Next, came the shaping - either by hand or thrown on a wheel. In the latter case, a metal disk was attached to a rod with a heavy wheel at its base. Kicking the wheel caused the entire assemblage to turn. The potter’s wheel had to spin at nearly 100 revolutions per minute for the potter to be able to form the clay.
Once shaped, objects dried in the sun before being fired at 1600-1800 degrees Fahrenheit in a kiln for about 30 to 40 hours. This part of the process was full of uncertainty, as the potter could not open the wood-burning kiln to examine a piece of pottery until the entire 30-plus hour period had elapsed.
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