G. Scatchard Lamps
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Shop Tour, Page 2

Our glazes are applied to the dry lamp bases with a brush while the lamp spins on a Potter's wheel. This is a picture of George putting a red glaze on a lamp. He is squirting the glaze onto the surface of the lamp with a rubber syringe held in his right hand, while spreading it with the brush in his left hand. This technique takes more than a little practice to avoid dribbling or knocking the spinning lamp off onto the floor. It is this process that makes the horizontal striping that occurs in many of our glazes. We apply from three to five coats of glaze depending on the color. I first heard of this method of glazing from another potter who had seen it being used by a Canadian Potter about forty years ago. The great advantage for us is that we apply the glaze to raw unfired clay that is quite fragile. With this method we can put the glaze exactly where we want it and avoid the bottom which must sit on a kiln shelf. Spinning the glaze on also works well for us because several of our glazes must be applied thick to look good but need to be feathered out thinner near the bottom so as not to run down and weld the lamp to the kiln shelf.

[ Tour Picture ]

[ Tour Picture ]

Once the lamps are glazed, they must be loaded into the kiln to be fired. This is a picture of George on his way to the kiln with a board full of freshly glazed lamps. For safety reasons the kiln is in a separate fireproof shed at the rear of the main building. Loading each firing takes about half a day. It is a little like a three dimensional jig saw puzzle, because each of our twenty glazes works best in a certain part of the kiln. Our kiln was designed and built by George about thirty five years ago to fire large planters. It has been rebuilt several times since then and is still going strong.

This is the kiln all closed up and in the early stages of a firing. You can see the orange glow coming from the burner port at the bottom of the kiln. The kiln is about six feet square and about six feet high. The inside space is about one hundred cubic feet. There are three levels of shelves, supported by fire bricks standing on end. The lamps are stacked on these shelves as close to each other as they can be without touching.

The kiln is lit at the end of a work day and left to preheat during the night. The next morning the gas is turned up a little at a time until the critical point of reduction is reached. At this time, the gas is turned up to more than double what was required to get up to this temperature. Our glazes depend on this "reduction" atmosphere to develop their color. The surplus fuel robs oxygen from the metallic oxides that color the glazes. Copper red and iron red are two famous reduction glazes that can be made no other way.

[ Tour Picture ]

[ Tour Picture ]

The firing process takes about 40 hours to complete. It takes about 24 hours are to reach about 2400 F. and about 16 hours to cool it down again. This is a shot of the kiln being opened as it cools down after a firing. As you can see, the floor and door of the kiln roll out like a railroad car so we can load and unload from two sides without having to take down the whole stack each time. The shelves you see are made from a mineral called cordierite which is just barely able to withstand the extreme heat of the kiln without sagging very much. from time to time we have to take the kiln car apart and flip the shelves over so they can sag the other way again. After about 10 of these cycles, they have to be replaced. A large part of the firing cycle is determined by the need to heat and cool the kiln and shelves in a gradual manner to avoid damage from thermal shock. Fast cooling will not only damage the shelves, it can actually cause the lamps to break as one part cools faster than another.

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G. Scatchard Lamps
P.O. Box 69
Cambridge, Vermont 05444

Tele. 1-800-643-5267
Email: info@GSLamps.com

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