For 50 years—the ceramic design & and artisan Makeshops of Maine Kiln Works have created beautiful durable objects for everyday use, to encourage traditional artisanship and process engineering in a variety of mediums.
Maine Kiln Works is located in the coastal village of West Gouldsboro, Maine (between Jones Pond and Jones Cove) on the way to Winter Harbor and Schoodic Point—home to Schoodic Institute | Acadia National Park.
In 1971—Dan Weaver turned down a university teaching position and moved from north Texas to rural Maine determined to make a living as a “maker”. Five decades later—Maine Kiln Works believes the only way to fully explore any idea is to conceive, design and build it (virtual model or tangible object).
In January 2018—Dan established a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational to metamorphose Maine Kiln Works to Artisan Lab. Our goal is to empower a new generation of Artisans to work with both hands & minds, despite cultural and economic disincentives. The Mission is 10 Finger Thinking—inspiring personal growth through craftsmanship & technology by providing an immersive, resource-rich environment to develop individual creative capacity, enrich local & global communities and serve all races, genders and ethnicities.
Explore Maine Kiln Works | Waterstone Sink | Artisan Lab Instagram Feed — to shadow ’10 Finger Thinking’
I throw the spouts and after drying a bit trim the spout angle (hoping it won't drip) and then the body joint contour with a fettling knife - handles as you see are pulled in place - lid knob also thrown in place - lid lock (not seen) under the little star (to remind user to position at back). You will also see the vent hole above the pulled handle thumb knob. Capacity for each of this group is 1.5 quarts.
Working potters will note and acknowledge the thrown spout 'unwind' inevitability. I simply cut the leather hard spout at a twist angle I guess (based on making many) will unwind to end up close to the desired horizontal plane.
As my engineer father used to caution "you have to sort of hold your mouth right when you do it"
What Lance Lee (who launched The Apprenticeshop in Bath, ME 1972) described as "growing in direct contact with raw materials"
Thanks to Tucker Pottery Supply (+ $1.00 dollar and other valuable considerations) a full pallet of air floated Bell Dark Ball Clay / one of the plastic things that makes my pots possible. 2500 lbs (fifty 50 lbs bags) eager for a place to camp pending their 'plastic' opportunity.
Levitating this dead weight pile (to my dirt floored dungeon) is a wonderful exercise in perseverance which will no doubt inspire thousands to envy the 'work-out' opportunity to mix their own clay body.
A very plastic kaolinitic ball clay mined by Kentucky Tennessee Clay Company is used in industrial and artisan clay bodies of all types with primary dinnerware applications. Mined southeast of Bell City, Kentucky (correct me if I'm wrong).
Water of Plasticity: 33.5%
% Dry Shrinkage: 6.1
Dry M.O.R. (50:50 ball clay:silica) psi:* 560
M.B.I. meq/100g: 8.0
Specific Surface Area (sq-metre/g): 24.1
Soluble sulfur+: Low
An example of my life long habit of playing with fire / 'Top Hat' kiln updraft damper flame exiting kiln roof in photo one. Photo 2 shows one of the 16 burner retention tip flames entering cast refractory floor at kiln base.
Friend and stellar potter Hank Murrow inspired this 'Top Hat' fiber lined kiln which (with his support and suggestions) I designed and 'artisan engineered' in CAD and built from scratch. The 20 cubic foot chamber is fired with 1 natural draft Eclipse burner feeding my TIG welded manifold with 16 burner retention tips (4 on each side). This high efficiency propane fueled kiln requires no electrical power and can be fired either up or down draft (or both combined).
Photos shows 14 x 30 x 5/16 inch thick Advancer shelves on Advancer Lug Post system (fiber lined shell in fully raised position) stacked with raw glazed pots prior to cone 10 glaze firing (with shell lowered to cast refractory floor and silicone gasket sealed).
Speedwell (Veronica persica) grows throughout Maine and blooms in early spring. It can be found in sunny open areas, along the edges of wooded areas and in fields or on lawns. These tiny blue flowers are less than half inch in diameter.
“Poor man's fertilizer is what the old Yankees called snow and there is considerable truth to that expression. Snowflakes as they form and fall absorb nitrates from the atmosphere and then release these nutrients into the soil as the snow melts."
On completion of the hour and 3/4 Filter Press session the central slip feed tunnel is back flushed with compressed air and the hydraulic ram compressing the filter faced frames together is released. The 38 de-watered clay cakes (16 x 16 x 1.5 inch thick) can then be removed from the cavity space between the filter faced frames.
Each cake is then cut into pie shapes small enough for the mouth of the Venco Pug Mill to swallow. The single auger helix on the Venco makes for challenging feeding. My double auger Danco Pug Mill learned to do this better via Venco’s inefficient but less expensive hopper feed design.
Mill brook bordering my West Gouldsboro home (bound for Flanders and Frenchmans Bay) in constant motion with Woodchuck and Meadow Mice out of hibernation and Fisher racing the banks. Bald Eagle fish the brook mouth now hosting Elvers (Glass Eeel) and Seal. Turkey clans working their way across the fields and Geese streaming overhead to that place they're sure the season needs now. Maine's wonderful winter gratefully punctuated by spring.
Removing plastic stoneware cakes from each of 38 Netzsch Filter Press chambers following 1:45 minute de-watering pressing session.
100 gallons of wet blunged slip (pumped into the Filter Press) maximized plasticity retained in the clay cakes which are now moisture balanced but now need a ride through the vacuum de-airing Venco pugmill to become homogeneous.
The tiny flat clay platelets now have full plastic lubricity to optimize formability.
The remaining trickle of exiting water after 1:45 minutes of Filter Press cycling and pump intervals slowed to 50 seconds. In other words / as the press squeezes out water the clay cakes become stiffer (with less water) and the pump cycles become progressively shorter.
Pressing beyond this 1 3/4 hour session creates clay which is too stiff to easily form but with care suited for Ram Pressing.
A day in the life of 'Netzsch the Filter Press'. Whomp whomping sound (David seez Bjork like song) is the cycling 120 psi pneumatic stainless-steel pump compressing blunged clay slip in the 38 cake chamber spaces between filter fabrics and press frames compressed at 56,000 psi (by my hand levered hydraulic ram). High pressure pneumatic pump forces excess water from slip through filters to exit clear to drain leaving throwing stiffness clay cakes ready to be made homogeneous in the 10 inch Venco SS pugmill.