VIRGIN ISLANDS PUBLIC ART SCULPTURE SERIES
"Traditional Coal Pots"
By Edney L. Freeman
In production in China
ART OF THE TITLE
The clay coal pot is a traditional , functional natural red or terracotta clay cookware form, found throughout the Caribbean, They are normally hand built and pit fired, as evidenced by the black carbon deposits on the unglazed surface.. Pit firing is done digging a big circular pit and piling dry wood kindling lighting it a fire including; hay, dry coconut husk and other kindling in layers over around and on top the clay coal pots and left there for days until the the pots turn into ceramic ware at approximately 1300-1400 degrees.
To use a coal pot, coals and kindling are placed on a grate located in the bowl area above the flue and slowly heated. My pots are wheel thrown on an electric wheel and fired to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit in an updraft kiln. Fired in that oxidized atmosphere no carbon deposits are on the forms.
Among natives it is widely believed that food cooked in a porous "Yabba" (covered unglazed pot) on top a coal pot gives food, especially stews, unparalleled flavor. They say for fear of breaking the "Yabba" it is advised to not say the word "Yabba" while cooking. In other Caribbean folklore when a pot breaks people say "Oh G-d". One sure thing when taken good care of, my coal pots can last generations.