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The Potting Shed - 1977-2009
Over Thirty Years Of Quality, 100% Hand Crafted Pottery Products Specializing In The Dedham Pottery Tradition.
For over thirty years, the Starr family in West Concord, MA has been making quality Dedham Pottery-like reproductions.
The Potting Shed's Production
Clay Mixing: The Potting Shed's production process begins with a 1200 gallon mix of liquid clay requiring 6000 pounds of clay from Kentucky and Tennessee, 4000 pounds of talc from upstate New York and Vermont, suspension agents and over 500 gallons of water. The mix produces a "slurry" that has the consistency of a moderately thick syrup. In the pottery industry, this slurry is called "slip".
Casting: Eighty-five percent of our shapes are formed in a process called "slip casting". The process requires three main elements: plaster molds, clay slip and time. Each morning, the molds are filled with the slip and allowed to "set" for a specific period of time. As the filled molds set, the inner edge of the plaster mold absorbs water from the clay closest to the mold walls. The absorption produces a coagulated layer of clay on the inner surface of the mold. The longer the slip-filled molds set, the thicker the coagulated layer becomes. At the end of the setting period, the molds are inverted, the uncoagualted clay is emptied from the molds and recycled for use in another casting. The coagulated layer adheres to the inner mold walls and is allowed to dry/harden for several hours. Once adequately hardened, the castings are removed from the mold and set on carts to air-dry over night. The dried, buff-colored castings, called "greenware", are hard enough to handle carefully but fragile enough to easily break if not handled properly.
Cleaning: Once thoroughly dried, we carefully remove the seamlines left on the ware by the casting process, smooth the product's surface(s) and complete any other remedial work required to transform the items from their roughed-out cast condition to finished quality - ready for painting. Once prepped, the various decorative patterns are 100% hand painted on the pieces by our our skilled artists. Interested customers who have toured our production process are amazed that we do not utilize decals, stencils or mechanically assisted decoration - just the trained eye and the steadied hand of our artists. Every painted item is personally signed by the artist, dated, inscribed with The Potting Shed's logo - a star - then marked with the product code. We also mark each of the pieces "USA", proudly attesting to our domestic heritage.