Salt glazing is a technique used by stoneware potters to create the glassy surface. When the pottery kiln reached over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit, salt was introduced to the kiln, creating a vapor. This vapor adhered to the silica in the clay, forming a glass. From the high temperature, the clay is often non-porous, or vitrified. This, combined with the salt glazing, allowed the potters to not have to apply a glaze to the interior of the vessel. It could hold liquids and not seep, unlike earthenware storage vessels.
Solomon Loy’s kiln was excavated starting in 1986 and revealed Loy’s work in both earthenware and salt-glazed stoneware. Loy started making salt-glazed stoneware in the mid to late 1830s and his children continued through the 1880s. Linda Carnes-McNaughton who performed the excavation notes that Loy’s move to salt-glazed stoneware “was marked by a dramatic increase in the production of storage containers and a decline in the manufacture of tableware.” The excavation also revealed that Loy used a circular updraft kiln, that may have been in the shape of a dome, beehive, or bottle kiln.
MAKER: Solomon Loy (1805-c.1865) trained as an earthenware potter in the St. Asaph’s District of Alamance County, North Carolina. The earthenware made there was distinctive and based in strong Germanic and Huguenot traditions. At least seven members of the Loy family were potters. The American patriarch of that line was Martin Loy, who was born in Hessen, Germany, immigrated to Berks County, Pennsylvania in 1741 and settled in Alamance County between 1755 and 1765. Generations of his family have maintained that the Loy’s were Huguenots, who escaped France after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1688, and sought refuge in Germany. The Loys intermarried with other families who moved from Berks County to Alamance County, most notably the Albrights, who were originally of Swiss extraction. Martin’s grandson Henry married Sophia Albright, daughter of pottery owner Jacob Albright Jr. Much of the earthenware from the St. Asaph’s tradition appears to have centered on those allied families.
Carnes-McNaughton, Linda. “Solomon Loy: Master Potter of the Carolina Piedmont.” CERAMICS IN AMERICA (2010) 105-139.