Arthur Watts comments about his working at New Lexington plant

[Trade Journal]

Publication: Transactions of the American Ceramic Society

Columbus, OH, United States
vol. 6, p. 52-53, col. 1


BY EDWARD G. ACHESON, Niagara Falls, N. Y.


Mr. A. S. Watts: A few years ago I had occasion to take up the subject of strengthening a white ware body, a body which had been giving a great deal of trouble from cracking, and I naturally turned to available data on the subject. In previous meetings there had been discussion in regard to using vinegar and beer and such things, added to the body to produce fermentation. I tried a few experiments on this line but did not get much satisfaction and soon gave it up.

Later, I had occasion to repair the wood lining of our clay cellar which had given out. It was impossible at that time to get any thoroughly dried timber to line it with. So we used some newly sawed, two-inch, red-oak plank. I always insisted on having the clay cellar kept quite warm, maintaining as even temperature as possible. Within a week's time after these new boards were put in, I noticed that the clay we had in there was becoming exceedingly blue where it came in contact with the boards, while back further into the clay, it remained white.

I found that a matter of three or four days in the clay cellar would start that blue coloration, and if the clay was allowed to remain two weeks in contact with the boards, the color would penetrate a foot into it. This set me to thinking along that line, and I got a barrel of tan-bark. I took about a bushel of it, and put it into a tub of water, and put a small steam-coil into it, and kept the water warm for some time. I then drew the water off with a siphon, and added it to quite a large quantity of clay. In fact, at the time I thought I was diluting it too much and would probably get no result. To my surprise, it gave me a very blue clay. In the course of about seventy-two hours, the action became so strong that tiny bubbles appeared in the clay, as if violent fermenting action were going on. Whether or not such was the case, I have never investigated.

I have found that the clay thus treated became very strong, and after that I began the regular use of a very dilute solution of tan-bark. I never took the pains to determine just what the strength of my solution was; but I have found that a dilute solution of water from tan bark gives a strengthening action and I used that from two years ago last March, until the early part of last September, when I left the factory to take charge of the erection of a new pottery elsewhere. After I left, matters went into the control of other hands and I have had no opportunity of knowing whether my practice was kept up or not, but I do not think it was. After I had installed the plant which I am now operating in New Lexington, I determined to try it again, and did, with the same results. I did not claim any originality for the use of this tan-bark infusion, supposing that others were aware of it, but I did find it useful in toughening clay. I mentioned in a paper read before this Society last year, on the design of a white ware plant" I should use a lining of plank in the clay cellar, but did not give my reason, viz., that the clay would develop greater strength.

It might further interest you to know that in the first plant we were using English China clay and kaolin; but in the New Lexington plant we are not using any of these clays, but are using clays from entirely different localities.


Keywords:New Lexington High Voltage Porcelain Company : Arthur Watts
Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Elton Gish
Date completed:July 31, 2010 by: Elton Gish;