Published by SentinelSource in ELF, july 2, 2015 on page 5. Used with permission.
Pottery Works Durable Cookware for Every Occasion
By Eric Stanway
For the last four decades, a single artisan has been quietly producing an unusual form of pottery in his shop located at the junction where Route 119 turns west, heading out of Fitzwilliam, and eventually ending up in Vermont.
This is The Pottery Works, a local institution since 1975. Owner Terry Silverman produces a specific form of pottery known as flameware, a highly heat-resistant variant. You can put this in your stove on high heat without fear of it cracking or breaking.
“I opened this business with two partners who left in 1977,” Silverman says. “They were raising a family, and wanted to do other things. I decided, however, to stick it out.”
Silverman says that his love of pottery goes back a long way. “I started throwing when I lived on the east side of Detroit,” he explains. “I began to become really interested when I met up with potters who were working in Harrisville, Michigan. I then moved to New Hampshire in 1973, and became a production potter.”
Not content with creating ornamental works, Silverman decided to go his own route, and opted to go with Flameware pottery.
“This style of pottery is very rare and unique,” he says. “There’s an unusual technical composition to the clay and glazes. For one thing, I once-fire all of my pieces, which is different from the usual procedure, where the piece is bisqued, then glazed and eventually fired. I actually glaze the pieces in their raw state, and then fire them in my 130-cubic foot downdraft kiln I have out back, at 2,450 degrees.”
Silverman says that his model of working is based on a particular school of British pottery, headed by the early 20th century potter Bernard Leach.
As for variety, Silverman makes just about every single variant the home cook could ever want.
“I have covered casseroles, frying pans and lasagna pans,” he says. “I also have low bowls, which are real nice for open casseroles. Additionally, I produce saucepans, which are wonderful for making gravies and heating maple syrup.”
The cookware has the added advantage of providing an even cooking surface, and will retain heat for a significant amount of time. They are also almost impossible to scratch, and can be easily cleaned by quenching the pans in hot water immediately after cooking. They are also dishwasher safe and are extremely durable.
Over time, Silverman has built up a significant clientele, and now sells his pieces all over the country.
“I sell to about 50 stores nationally, as well as sending out individual orders to people who buy off my website,” he says. “Locally, I have pieces in the Kitchen Store in Keene and Everyday Goods in Jaffrey.”
As for mixing the clay itself, Silverman has employed a real piece of vintage equipment - namely, a 1921 Peerless bread machine mixer, manufactured in Sidney, Ohio.
“It’s a great instrument for mixing clay,” Silverman says. “I can produce a whole lot of clay in that thing.”
There’s an old saying that the man who makes a living at doing what he loves is one of the few luckiest individuals on the planet, and this particularly holds true for Silverman.
“This is a full-time vocation for me,” he says. “I also have been teaching a pottery class over at Franklin Pierce College for the last 10 or 12 years.”
Despite being tucked away in this small town, Silverman feels he has carved out a unique niche in pottery, and one of which he is justly proud.
“It’s a wonderful profession,” he says. “It’s interesting to be making the world’s best cookware right in your own back yard.”
The Pottery Works is located at 312 Route 119 West, Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire. Their mailing address is Box 345, Fitzwilliam Depot, New Hampshire, 03447. To reach them by phone, call (603) 585-6644 or you can visit them online at www.flamewarepottery.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © 2015, SentinelSource.com, Keene, NH. 07/02/2015