« EelmineJätka »
on small articles to sit upon a stool with the partly prepared handles on a table or "bench” in front, and the article to be handled on one side of him. The workmen sit in this position until they have a number of articles finished, when they remove them on boards to another part of the room to dry. While sitting many of them acquire the habit of stooping over, which interferes with the full expansion of the chest; and when they get upon their feet to remove the finished ware, the ever present dust which they cause to rise from the floor aggravates the resulting lung troubles.
Under the head jiggermen are classed plate, saucer and dishmakers, or all who work on a revolving wheel. While at work, they stand at a bench, but are not required to remain in any one position for a long time. In making some shapes of ware they are compelled to stoop over their work in order to obtain pressure against the moulds and perfect the form. The rapid moving and shuffling of feet on the floor by the assistant, and the swiftly revolving moulds on the jiggerhead, keep a cloud of dust around the workman, which he cannot avoid inhaling, to the great injury of his health.
Hollow-ware pressers take the clay in a ductile state and fit it to the mould, using their hands to obtain a perfect impression, and to secure a uniform thickness on all sides of the vessel. Like the jiggerman or flat presser, they stand while at their business, and are obliged to stoop a great deal over their work. In forming large articles the work is laborious, by reason of the size and weight of the moulds used. The rapid motion necessary causes the dust from the floor and from their clothing to be kept in constant agitation, resulting in injury to the throat and lungs.
After the ware has passed through the clay department it reaches the kiln in what is known as the green, or clay state, where it is placed in the saggers by the kilnmen, who, if it is hollow ware, sprinkles sand between the pieces to prevent their touching each other. Flat ware, such as large dishes and plates, if it is the ordinary grade of earthenware, is bedded in sand; but if it is porcelain or china ware, in finely-powdered flint. After this, the ware is placed in the kiln to be fired. This is the most laborious branch of the pottery business. The saggers are made of coarse clay, varying in size and shape, from an oval, with sides the height of a teacup
and two feet long, to those high enough to take in a tall ewer or slop jar, and much larger in sanitary ware potteries. A sagger when filled with general ware weighs from 50 to 100 pounds; in sanitary ware even more than this. The kiln is a circular brick structure, ranging in size from 15 to 13 feet in the interior circumference, and about the same height to the crown. The saggers are placed in tiers, one on top of another, so that the bottom of the last one put in position forms the covering for the one underneath it. The workmen enter the kiln through an opening, with the saggers on their heads, and after the tiers are too high to reach from the foor of the kiln they ascend by means of a stepladder to place the sagger in position. This requires not only muscular power but considerable agility, so that when a workman begins to fail in either, he is unable to perform the work as well as younger men and is soon laid off. After the firing, the saggers are removed from the kiln,which is frequently done while they are so hot that the workmen are obliged to wear thick coverings on their hands to keep them from being burnt. In passing from the kiln while at such a high temperature to the outside, where the temperature is much lower, the men are liable to take colds and to suffer from every other discomfort which such conditions give rise to.
After the first firing the ware is cleaned of all sand and other particles that may adhere to it, by the brushers, when it passes to the dipper, who immerses it into a liquid glaze, which contains oxide of lead, borax, Paris white, clay, flint, &c. The operation consists in sinking each piece into the glaze, and removing it immediately, after which it is again sent to the kiln as glost ware and again undergoes the same process of firing as before, except that no sand or powdered flint is applied, but small three cornered pins and spurs are used instead to prevent the pieces from touching each other.
With the growth of the Trenton pottery industry, there has been a constant tendency to concentrate it in large factories. This has been followed by the building of larger and more commodious workshops, and as many processes through which the ware passes require a large floor room, no inconvenience is experienced by the workmen through overcrowding. Many of the buildings are well adapted to their purposes, so far as height of ceiling and arrangements for ventilation through windows and doors can conduce to that end; but several are deficient in these respects, and few, if any of them, have been constructed upon scientific methods to avoid dust or dampness, the two principal causes of injury to the potter.
All authorities agree that it is not so much the physical labor that affects the potter as it is the dust arising from the clay or material upon which he operates. And if means could be devised by which this can be obviated, there is no doubt that the potter's art might be raised from a very unhealthy and short lived to a healthy and long lived one.