[Clayart] Vertical pugmills

vpitelka at dtccom.net vpitelka at dtccom.net
Wed Jan 26 21:47:10 UTC 2022

The first pugmill I ever used was a vertical one.  In 1969 when I took my first ceramics classes at Humboldt State in Northern California, they had one of the very early Soldner mixers, plus a very beefy vertical pugmill.  We mixed our clay in the Soldner and then ran it through the pugmill.  It still had to be wedged because the pugmill wasn't deairing.  

A few years ago when I was teaching a workshop at the Chico Ceramic Center in Chico, California, they had just purchased some equipment at a Chico State University auction after Chico State ceramics program moved into their new facility and replaced all the equipment.  They got a big 50-cubic-foot Bailey gas car kiln in excellent condition for $4000, one tenth of the new price.  Also, for $75 they got a vertical pugmill like the one at Humboldt.  

I found a reference online to Alpine vertical pugmills, so I am sure that's what they were.  Back then, Alpine was very aggressive in marketing ceramics equipment to colleges and universities, so those institutions often ended up with Alpine kilns, wheels, and pugmills.  It took a while for other manufactures to come up with equipment that was far superior to Alpine, and it was amazing how long it took for the universities to catch on.  We had nothing but Alpine updraft kilns at Humboldt, plus the Alpine pugmill.  Fortunately, they had gotten rid of their Alpine wheels and we had some Shimpo RK-1s, some early Brents, and a fleet of kick-wheels.  

But I digress.
- Vince

Vince Pitelka
Potter, Writer, Teacher
Chapel Hill, NC
vpitelka at dtccom.net

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