Tales from the Wood

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Cleft Chestnut Lids
I’ve made quite a few turned wooden lids for pottery jars in the past and always from seasoned wood. Greenwood is almost impossible to turn successfully for lids because they need to be flat, thin, and well fitting; fine when first turned, but all over the place when they dry out. Cleft greenwood slatting is a different matter; the grain can be orientated to remain fairly stable as it dries and you can increase the size indefinitely. It’s a traditional technique and very often uses clenched (or clinched) nails to hold it together - very strong and quick to assemble. Here I’ve used copper nails rather than iron as the tannin in sweet chestnut reacts with iron staining the wood black. The idea of wood-fired pottery with wooden lids is appealing - the clunk of wood against ceramic is far less alarming than the chink (or crack) of pot against pot. Have you ever wondered why there are so few complete examples of functional lidded pots around? Even that mighty collection of English slipware in The Potteries Museum has to show off a few lidless pieces.