Sarah's House of Clay
At Market Saturdays, year round.
Products: Handcrafted functional pottery. Special orders welcome – and eventually filled. Also pottery camps on most teacher workdays, school holidays and summer camps.
Location: West Durham
History: A potter since 1980, Sarah loves to create beautiful pottery to enhance our daily enjoyment of food. From the intimacy of the mug we bring to our lips to the sharing of food in the serving bowl her pottery touches the lives of many in our community. Through her pottery camps she shares the joy of creating beauty from mud with many area children.
The Clay: The pre-mixed clay is delivered by the ton from Highwater Clay in Asheville.
Forming the clay: Working on her side porch, Sarah forms the clay on her potter’s wheel. When dried to the leather hard state, most pieces are flipped over then returned to the wheel to trim excess clay and form the foot of the pot. Often, the pieces are altered either before or after the trimming.
Bisque firing: Once dried completely, the electric kiln is filled for the bisque firing to 1865°F. The bisque firing takes 12 hours to fire and 24 hours to cool. From the bisque kiln, pots are hauled out to the kiln shed for glazing and the high fire in the gas kiln.
Glazes: Sarah mixes her own glazes creating suspensions of raw earthy (not organic) materials – principally Silica, Alumina and oxides for colorants. To glaze a pot, first the foot is waxed by dipping into a vat of melted paraffin. The pots are then dipped one to three times in a variety of well-stirred glazes to create Sarah’s familiar color styles. The waxed bottoms are then wiped clean of any glaze residue.
Loading the Kiln: Pots are carefully loaded into the kiln that they do not touch each other on the stacked shelves which are held up by kiln posts. The door is then restacked. (That’s 146 bricks lifted into place each firing!) It takes 2 days to glaze and load the kiln.
Firing the gas kiln: The kiln is candled with the pilots for about 6 hours, then the gas is increased gradually and the air is regularly adjusted over the next 18 hours until cone 10 temperatures (around 2350°F) are reached. Once the firing is complete and the kiln shut down, it cools for 48 hours.
Timing: To go from dry pot to finished piece takes 10 days – assuming no interruptions (weather, children, camps, life) along the way. Also assuming there is a kiln load of pots ready to fire. It is inefficient and difficult to fire a less than full kiln.
SPECIAL ORDERS: Special orders are welcome, and eventually filled. Sarah has found she looses track of Special Orders as they travel through the numerous steps from a lump of clay to finished project. Please give ample time for special orders to be processed.
WEDDING REGISTRY: Sarah welcomes wedding registries. After pottery is selected, a web page is created or the actual pieces are presented at a shower for purchase.
SARAH’S HOUSE OF CLAY CAMPS: Camps are available on most teacher workdays and school holidays. Sarah invites a few children to share her studio and home following three simple rules – Be safe. Be polite. Clean up after yourself. Sarah welcomes children into her studio as fellow artists on a path of discovery. Children plan their own days, eating when they are hungry, working and playing as their muses move them. She is available to answer questions, assist with wheel work and help with the daily struggles of growing up (wash scrapes and mediate arguments).