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No. 4124: Bricking in the Kiln
Postcard #4124

This snapshot shows the kiln door being bricked in prior to firing the pottery. The huge kiln was heated to 2500 degrees Fahrenheit.

 Today's picture shows the door to the Dorchester Pottery kiln being bricked up. Once the kiln had been filled with unfired pottery, the door was bricked up so that the heat of the oven would be contained.

Dorchester Pottery's kiln is probably one of the few remaining industrial beehive types in the country. Beehive kilns were most commonly designed as exterior structures and were not housed inside of buildings. Furthermore, beehive kilns were generally used for brick manufacture, a process that does not require particularly high temperature firings. Dorchester Pottery's kiln therefore is important not only for its survival and uses as an example of late nineteenth - early twentieth century pottery-making technology but because it is unusual for its use in the production of stoneware which required high firings at 2,300 to 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit.

Strongly demonstrating Dorchester Pottery's involvement in an early technology is the company's continued practice, until the 1960's, of using an industrial kiln that had to be fired with coal and wood. During the 1920's, when the company employed 28 potters, the kiln was fired monthly. Later on, in the fifties and sixties, the kiln was fired only four times a year. The process of loading, firing, cooling, and unloading the kiln took about two weeks, with the actual firing requiring fifty to sixty hours of constant attendance. After forty hourly firings brought the temperatures up to about 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, regular fifteen minute firings were necessary to raise the heat to the higher temperatures needed for the vitrification of glazes. Estimates of the amount of fuel required indicate the firing consumed about fifteen tons of coal and four cords of wood. Because the interior of the kiln was an inferno of heat and flame, wares being fired were protected from scorching by crockery covers called saggers.
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Created: January 31, 2008   Modified: February 2, 2011