Our trip to Groton, Massachusetts
This was to be our last day on the road but we decided to take one more day before getting home. Our grandson’s daycare graduation is scheduled for tonight so we decided instead of driving home in the late evening we’d stay over to make it an easier drive tomorrow. So the day began with a lazy start. We visited the Riverfront Centre again and then we visited the Red Wing Stoneware Company. This facility, at first glance, seemed to be the Redwing Pottery Company that we have known as the manufacturer of a sturdy line of pottery, especially crocks. One of the workers did not clarify our misconception when we asked if this was the “real Red Wing Pottery.” The worker was correct that they were selling authentic Red Wing Pottery, but the fact is that this is a retail outlet for the manufacturer as well as for other makers of pottery. This company also makes their own line of pottery that carries the Red Wing logo, but it is not the authentic logo. Confused? So were we. We then drove down the road to the other Red Wing Pottery facility and were told that they were the “real Red Wing” manufacturers and indicated they had a factory tour at 1:00 PM and they could answer all our questions then. Whew, it was time for some serious sightseeing to clear our minds. So our next stop was Cannon Falls, MN. Why there you ask, because we thought there would be a waterfall and since we had just visited Niagara Falls we thought it would make a nice comparison. The picture above is a single lane bridge over the Cannon River in Cannon Falls, MN and since we were having trouble finding the falls I took this picture of what looked more like a rapids than a waterfall.
We continued through town and did in the end find the waterfall that this town is named for. Now we know that this pales in comparison to Niagara Falls, we did find this a nice place to visit. The city has paved a walkway along the river and provided several ponds with ducks and swans for the kids to feed. The height of the falls is probably not more than four or five feet at each step.
Now, back to our confusion over two companies with very similar names and product lines. The tour began with an explanation of the brief history of the Red Wing Pottery facility that were visiting. The original plant closed in 1967 over a severe labor dispute. The Red Wing Stoneware Company opened in 1987 and began producing pottery. The Red Wing Pottery Company opened in 1996 to handle the larger scale production needed to meet the demands of customers, both wholesale and retail. In the picture above Dave is demonstrating the potter’s wheel method of producing a honey pot and lid. In the picture below he has mad very short work of forming the vessel.
We also saw the slip forming process of making pottery. In the picture below a worker shows us a mug that was removed from the plaster form. The forms, in the foreground are in two separate stages of production. The forms that are full to the top with clay were freshly poured and are setting until the proper wall thickness is achieved as the plaster pulls the moisture out of the clay. The forms that don’t show clay across the opening of the vessel have had the clay slurry poured out of them and are drying before removal from the forms. The picture below shows the green ware on racks waiting further processing. This processing includes removal of mold marks, smoothing, and further carving before they are sprayed with glaze and baked in the kiln.
I am sure there are those reading this that doesn’t consider a factory tour the highlight of a vacation. But in this case we found it very interesting in the sense that this really is more like a cottage industry with the entire production, sales, and shipping all under one roof. This company produces a wide range of pottery and does custom work as well. We of course found several pieces of pottery that we just couldn’t live without.