I can remember back when pottery wasn’t regulated. Anyone who wanted to make a pot was allowed to.
Clay was for sale to anyone who had the money to buy some. Worse, they could simply dig some up if they wanted. They didn’t even have to secure a permit to dig for it. There was no agency tasked with making sure that the environmental impact of such digging and foraging was minimized, much less restored.
Nobody had to submit their design plans to the approval agency for the pots they planned to make. I know it sounds unbelievable now, but they could simply make anything they felt like making. No market viability had to be proven or approved. Even worse, there was no Aesthetics Panel to which designs had to be submitted. In the name of creativity or even novelty, anyone could make whatever they could imagine out of clay.
It took decades of dedication and public money to recycle all that material – at least, what could be recycled out of it all. It kept the crushers busy 24 hours a day. There was that much unauthorized pottery out there. And it had been fired. Some of those materials – now so rare we’d give almost anything to have them back – are fired into this rubble of their careless and unregulated use.
And these potters weren’t even educated as we today might expect. A full 60% of them never had any formal university training in ceramics. And those with university degrees often had such degrees in unrelated fields. They had no business believing themselves properly trained for making clay work. An audacious bunch they were, working out of garages and basements and back yard sheds – again, totally unregulated. And blissfully unaware. They’d openly share what they were working on together. They had no sense that what they were doing should have been kept quietly under wraps. So much so that with one of them openly making clay objects, so many others just assumed it was okay for them to do so as well. Or as poorly, I should say.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Or clayberg. They fired totally unregulated kilns. They used completely unregulated combustible materials to fire them. They would even take wood from what used to be forested land and fire kilns with it. There’s simply no way of calculating the cubic footage of wood burned, nor the volume of gas – natural and propane. The kilns were totally unregulated. The government never even had a sense of just how many of these kilns existed. The kilns didn’t even have to be submitted to a governmental board for kiln plan approval. I remember a guy who simply lined a garbage can with bricks, took some plumbing fixtures, and built a kiln that vented straight into the open air.
It took nearly a century to come to our senses.