Need to find expert in historical ceramic techniques

Hi Gang,

Does anybody know anyone who’s really up on early medieval (6th-7th
century) ceramic techniques in Northern Europe?

In my snail-like quest to figure out how the garnets for Migration
Period jewelry were cut, I have some ideas for a way to do it, but
they’re based on my (vague) knowledge of ceramic techniques and
technology. What I don’t know is what was possible in period, in
the area, or exactly how they would have gone about doing it. Which
influences whether or not my hypothetical modified technique would
even have been possible for them.

So I’m looking for somebody who’d be willing to answer a few
technical questions about techniques and equipment. We’re all
interesting people, we all have interesting friends. I’m hoping one
of them is a ceramics geek…


I would recommend the publications of the York Archeological Trust.
Many of the sites that they have excavated, analyzed and published
are early ceramics and jewelry production sites.

I remember reading that there was a source of plate like garnet
crystals but can’t find the reference. However I suggest you get in
touch with the British Museum. There are quite a number of scholarly
articles produced by the museum and I am sure a curator could at
least help with and maybe solve the problem Cheers, Karen (Who is
very fond of Sutton Hoo artifacts - particularly the ones with
garnet cells!)

I’d suggest you contact local gem & mineral clubs, also art schools,
particularly that specialize in subject you wrote about. There are
somevery surprisingly highly educated people in many fields in both
of these area. I’m a member of Arlington Gem & Mineral Club
(Arlington, TX) & a very knowledgeable art teacher is at Visual
Expressions art school & gallery in Cedar Hill, TX. Good luck.

Sharon Perdasofpy

Hi Brian,

I’m sure you’ve already thought of this, but I’d check universities
in either art history, or just history.

At University New Mexico, it was suggested you contact: Justine

She’s the local medievalist, and her contact info should be
accessible through UNM’s website.

Good luck!

I remember reading that there was a source of plate like garnet
crystals but can't find the reference. 

Right here in Orchid. The topic title was “Oddball
Lapidary/geological question”.

Al Balmer

John Bauman. Bauman Pottery, Google him up.


You could try this group; or
the V&A museum:

regards mikeK

That was me too. I’ve actually been there (Sweden) and dug some of
them out of the mountain.

They’re plate-like only in comparison to normal garnets. Still not
nearly flat enough, unfortunately.

Which is why I’m trying to figure out some sort of flat lapping rig
that they could have used, given the technology at hand.

Which is why I’m curious about how potter’s wheels were made.


Probably the best kept secret in North America. David Hustler out of
Toronto Canada, fireandfusion. he is a master
enamelist. He has knowledge of techniques most people have forgotten.
If he doesn’t know one of his buddies will.


Which is why I'm trying to figure out some sort of flat lapping
rig that they could have used, given the technology at hand. 

The use of something along the lines of a rotating horizontal lap
didn’t really pop up until fairly late (14th-15th century), prior to
that they did their flat face grinding using abrasives on a flat
plate made of lead, copper alloy, or something like porphyry, as
described in Theophilus’ “On Divers Arts” (circa 1122). Remember,
they were flat grinding stones on the sides of the huge sandstone
wheels in Idar Oberstein, for generations, starting in the 1400s.

There may have been someone who got the idea to use a potters
wheel as a lapidary tool, but so far, there has been no evidence of
such innovation from as early as the migration era.

Ron Charlotte
Gainesville, FL

I seem to remember something about Tycho Brahe developing methods
for making some of the first large optical lenses for telescopes in
the 16th cent. using a large flat plate and some sort of abrasive
powder applied, to polishthe shape of the lens into the glass
without marring the surface if I remember correctly…