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flameware trial reply to gavin

updated tue 30 jul 02


F.Chapman Baudelot on mon 29 jul 02

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Dear Gavin,

Your post re flameware in America was really interesting and I read it=20
several times. Don't worry, the pieces I am making with my one bag of clay=
are not for sale except perhaps a couple of teapots. I am using the rest=
for my own kitchenware, especially ovenware. I used to make teapots with=20
Navajo Wheel red clay from IMCO and found they survived being put on the=20
electric element of our range by my husband and forgotten until I would=20
notice that the tea was boiling merrily inside, so I do know that some=20
normal clays can be misused in this way. He did manage to crack a teapot=20
(a very attractive and well made one) made by another potter from a white=20
^10 stoneware body.

Yes, in the U.S. suing seems to be the national sport, and I were still in=
Canada I would certainly not try to produce stove top ware. However, here=
in Spain and probably in most Mediterranean countries, flameware, both=20
industrial and artisanal, has always been sold in the hardware stores,=20
kitchen stores, market places etc. and if anyone has had an accident with=20
it, they probably would not have complained. Maybe I should have sued a=20
jewellery store in Prince Rupert, B.C. From them I once bought a $14=20
semi-industrial mug for my husband's coffee because he wanted something=20
light and thin. The second time I filled it with coffee the handle fell=20
off and I could see a large air bubble where it had been attached to the=20
upper part of the mug. So I threw it in the garbage. End of story.

I imagine that Collet's have done all sorts of tests on their flameware=20
body before marketing it. They are a reputable and old-established=20
company. If you wish to see the data sheet (in English) here is the link=20 When I bought the clay I was=
told to use their special glazes rather than make one of my own and there=20
is probably a good reason for that. Years ago a lot of the flameware made=
by artisan village potters was glazed inside with raw lead which would=20
craze on the first use making it doubly lethal. The villagers who bought=20
the stuff new about the lead and would supposedly 'cure' it by boiling=20
vinegar in the pot for an hour or so 'to leach out the lead'. Whether this=
really worked or not, I cannot say, but most villagers would live to be=20
well over 80 with few health problems. Now that we have McDonald's and the=
like in every town, and supermarkets with everything pre-packed on=20
stryrofoam trays just like in North America, people do not seem so healthy=
and children are becoming obese. Civilisation!

Thank you for your input.


Gavin wrote:
>The reason so-called flame ware is problematic in developed countries,
>particularly those with developed legal systems, is the heightened risk of
>liability in case of misuse or mistreatment of the ware, and subsequent
>injury to the user, with consequent suit for damages. In a contemporary
>kitchen using an electric range with metal burners and an enameled metal
>stove top, it is quite easy to contrive such a misuse. First, the metal
>burner is capable of inducing quite severe thermal gradients. Next, if the
>pot is set down on a cold metal surface after heating, there will be even
>greater stresses. Next, if the hot pot is brought into contact with cold
>water... etc.