Posts Tagged ‘Fort Dodge Stoneware Company’


Interesting Sights at the Pottery

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The Fort Dodge Messenger: April 25, 1904

Interesting Sights at the Pottery

Improvement Has Been Made Over the Old Order of Things.

Filter Press Latest Thing

Description of Method of Making Stoneware – Rapid Work by the Men.

A large filter press has been installed in the pottery of the Fort Dodge Stoneware company. the functions of this press is to separate all the impurities from the clay. The clay when put into this press is in its ordinary state. During the process is it forced thru several fine screens by which all foreign substances are removed. Following this process the clay is placed in a large vat, with sides which allow water to pass thru while at the same time retaining the clay. The water is forced thru these sides by a pressure of one hundred pounds to the square inch. A peculiar and interesting fact is that when the water comes from the vat it is as clear as crystal, although it has been forced from clay.

When the clay is taken from the filter press, it is very stiff and has not a particle of water in it. It is then placed in another machine and mixed with a small quantity of water and stirred until the desired firmness and texture is reached, when it is taken to the rooms in which it is to be made into crockery.

The filter press is to take the place of a grinding machine which only grinds up the impurities and does not remove them. By the use of the new machine, in the future no rough surface or foreign substances will be found in the products of the Fort Dodge Stoneware Company.

After the clay has reached the room in which it is to be made into crockery it is worked by hand if it is to be made into jars. Then it is placed on a revolving board and to the eye of the spectator as if by magic a jar is seen to form without an apparent movement of the clay moulder’s hand. But if the moulder is watched closely it can be seen that he forms the clay by gradually forcing it into the desired shape.

The only things made by this process are the large jars and fancy wares, such as flower pots, etc. the small jars, milk pans, butter jars, etc., are made by machinery. The clay is put into a small mould and a large stick is dropped in the mould and the clay is quickly formed int he desired shape.

The jugs are made in two sections, the lower section being made a great deal on the same plan, the greatest difference being in the mold. After the two sections are made the two molds are fastened together and then placed in a dryer. After being in there for a given length of time they are taken out and the molds taken off and the handle is put on. They then are put in a dryer again and after being removed are glazed. The upper part of the jug and the inside is glazed with a mixture of Michigan and Alabama clay which gives it a brown color. The lower part is glazed with a white substance which makes the lower part of the jug a brown color. This process of glazing is called “slipping” by the employees of the pottery. Then the jug or other article is ready to be taken to the kiln to be baked.

About 800 jugs can be made by an expert jug maker in a day and he has three assistants who take the jugs to the dryer, get the moulds ready for him and put the handles on the jugs. An expert can make about 800 milk pans and butter crocks a day, while the larger crocks and fancy ware take much longer time to make.

A fact that seems marvelous is the very great weight of clay needed to make the different products. The clay in a thirty gallon jub weighs about 120 pounds and the jug completed weighs about the same.

A large line of sample goods is always kept on hand at the pottery and a very good display of them is made. A visit to the sample room makes a person think that everything that is possible to be made out of clay is made at the local pottery.

(Editor’s note: A recent Messenger article about the Fort Museum states that a replica of the showroom will be built at the museum to show off goods of the Fort Dodge Stoneware Company.)

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