Clay Times Back Issues Vol. 2 Issue 4 • May/June 1996 - Page 28

▼ 28 During her early years as a clay office, plus two full-time builders and four part-timers who help in artist back in 1973, Jan Richardson the office, shipping areas, and glaze probably would never have room. Seven other employees, guessed that her hobby of making hand-built clay cottages would one mostly stay-at-home moms, assemble Jan’s clay houses in the conveday spawn the creation of a comnience of their own homes. plete commercial industry of miniature dwellings (although Located in Knoxville, Maryland Jan’s line still remains as the only (just five miles from the historic hand-built, high-fired, limited editourist town of Harpers Ferry, West tion cottages). Nor would Jan have Virginia), Jan’s “cottage industry” guessed that her Windy Meadows is based at her home and the variPottery would one day escalate to ous outbuildings an operation which surround staffed by 50 fullit. Perched on a and part-time rural hillside employees, filloverlooking a ing non-stop babbling brook, orders for limitthe front room ed edition clay of Jan’s resicottages nationdence serves as wide. Yet if you her retail storeask Jan today front, devoted whether an opercompletely to ation that size is display of the worth the effort, many cottages, she’ll tell you cabins, and how essential it small-town is to find a propbuildings which er balance to compose her full keep the busiline of works. ness operating Most of these efficiently and are sold with successfully. optional night (When the receslight to illumision hit during nate them from her peak of operwithin. Others ations in 1989, Detail of thatched roof and chimneys. are designed as Jan chose to scale lidded containers, with removable down her operation to a more roofs. Another line, dubbed “potmanageable size, as a result of tages,” have open roofs and serve decreased demand from a slowed as catch-all containers for pens and economy.) various other odds and ends. Windy Meadows now has a Jan’s studio is situated in a staff of eight on-site workers, two remodeled tractor shed just steps of whom work full-time in the DAVID EGAN PHOTOGRAPHY Jan Richardson’s Windy Meadows Pottery: The Original Hand-built Slab Clay Houses Down Home: 14” x 16” x 14” away from her house. This is where you’ll find Jan’s on-site builders who help roll, cut, press mold, and extrude the various components which make up each unique cottage design. A complete set of templates has been created for each cottage, to aid not only in the ease of construction, but also to assure consistency in production of each unique design. A series of plaster press molds are used to make the very detailed roof systems, which range from miniature shingled roofs to tin roofs to thatched straw roofs of Olde English-style village houses. Some of the designs also call for the intricate placement of individually-cut miniature roof shingles or tiles. Each cottage is made with various colors of slab stoneware clay, decorated with underglazes, glazes, and oxides. About 95% are fired to cone 9-10 in Jan’s gas-fueled reduction kiln. The remaining designs are oxidation-fired for truer whites and brighter colors. Although firing at such high temperatures results in greater pre-sale losses, Jan has chosen to stick with highfiring to assure more durable and aesthetically appealing works. The assembly process has been fine-tuned to a science. Following on-site training on the cottagebuilding process and quality control, the workers take home paper templates, mini klay gun extruders, and various packages of soft, colored clay, along with the other tools and supplies necessary to assemble each particular project. Jan’s larger editions and cus-