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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

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Pottery Works

Pottery Works

GRHC - June 22nd, 2011

John Lipczynski pioneered the field at his 19th Century landmark Pottery Works at Michigan and Eastern in Grand Rapids, MI. 



John Lipczynski’s pottery works stood near the city limits at Michigan and Eastern in 1876. He used an old-fashioned hand press for hand made flowerpots, and a more modern machine press for molding pots.

Anyone could operate the machine press, but it took a well-trained potter to manipulate the old hand press, a skill Lipczynski had learned in Poland before immigrating to Grand Rapids a few years before. The hand made pots were far superior in appearance to the machine made, and were commonly used in homes while machine pressed pots were made for the greenhouse trade.

The clay used for flowerpots was the same as that used in brick making. First the clay passed through a steam-operated grinder, reducing it to a soft pulpy mass free from lumps and easily handled. Then it was ready for the potter’s press.

After the pots were pressed or molded they were packed into the kiln with great care, as the clay was still soft and easily misshapen. They were allowed to dry for some time before being fired. The kiln held 15,000 pots of average size. After it was filled the door was closed with brick and sealed with a coating of clay, then the fires were started underneath and maintained at a white heat for 60 hours.

During the cooling process the kiln remained untouched, finally, after four days it was opened and the contents removed, ready for sale to homes or greenhouses.  

Full Details

TitlePottery Works
KeywordsGlance at the Past, history, pottery, Grand Rapids, Historical Commission, radio, Podcast
Pubdate StringJune 22nd, 2011

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