Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are your showroom hours?
Our showroom hours vary by season.
Memorial Day through Labor Day:
10 am - 4 pm Monday through Saturday.
September to December:
10 am - 4 pm Monday through Saturday.
Vary. Phone ahead.
How long have you been in business?
Prairie Fire Potter has been in business in Beach, North Dakota since 1995. However, we have been making and selling pottery since 1985.
Are studio tours available?
Yes, if you would like a tour of our studio just ask at the showroom. We can almost always make arrangements. We can also accommodate large groups, such as bus tours or family reunions. We welcome student or classroom tours as well. If it's a large group, it’s best to call ahead.
How do I contact you?
Mail: PO Box 190, Beach, ND 58621
Do you give pottery lessons?
Sorry, we do not give lessons.
Do you ever donate pottery to fundraising efforts?
Yes, Prairie Fire Pottery donates to a variety of fundraising events. But we try to be both fair and accommodating to the many requests we receive. This means we may not donate repeatedly to the same events or organizations. This allows us to more widely distribute our limited donation budget.
What is high-fired pottery?
Pottery can be kiln-fired to a variety of temperatures. The higher the temperature, the stronger the pottery. We fire our kiln to 2400° or Cone 10. At this temperature pottery is considered high-fired. For reference, 2400° is the same temperature the Space Shuttle would reach on re-entry to the Earth’s atmosphere. It is nearly white heat. Aside from added strength, firing to this temperature also produces the most beautiful, fluid, and complex glazed surfaces possible.
Is your pottery dishwasher-safe?
The best way to answer this often-asked question is to lay out both arguments. On one hand, the interior of a dishwasher is a harsh environment. In order to thoroughly scrub pots and pans dishwasher soaps are made abrasive. Over time, exposure to these abrasives can etch or dull the surface of practically anything.
On the other hand, high-fired pottery like ours is very tough stuff and will stand up well even in dishwashers. But over time (and here we are talking years), some dulling of the surface might occur. The determining factor is time. Frequent exposure to a dishwasher (on a daily basis) will produce a greater risk than will infrequent exposure which has very little risk.
Our advice? Don’t worry about it. Enjoy your high-fired pottery. It’s tough stuff and made to be used.
Can I put your pottery in a microwave?
Yes, absolutely. If your coffee has cooled off, don’t hesitate to pop your mug into a microwave and warm it back to temperature. Now, placing pottery into a conventional oven requires a bit more caution. But microwaves are not a problem.
Can I put your pottery in an oven?
You can, but some cautionary steps are required. Never put pottery (our’s or anyone else’s) directly into a hot oven. Instead, put pottery into a cold oven. Then let the pottery pre-heat with the oven. What you want to guard against is thermal shock - going too suddenly from one temperature to another.
Is your pottery lead-free?
Yes, completely. We do not even own any lead.
How long does it take to fire the kiln?
The smaller electric kiln, which is the first firing, transforms the pottery from greenware to bisqueware. That firing takes about 7 hours. It will take another 24 to 36 hours to cool. The big gas kiln, the second firing, takes from 12 to 14 hours, not including a slow, overnight warm up. It will take about 3 days to cool.
How do you get those colors?
Pottery-making is both an art and a science. In order to arrive at a pallet of rich glaze colors, a good deal of time must be invested in understanding glaze chemistry. It is all about the recipe and the delicate balance of its ingredients. For the most part, these ingredients are all finely-ground rock and minerals. Some of these, for example, will cause the glaze to melt, others will inhibit melting. Some will form clear glass, while others will produce opacity. It is only through experimentation and testing that glaze colors are slowly developed. In addition, every glaze must be paired with the clay body. Specifically, their rates of thermal expansion and contraction must be closely matched. If one expands/contracts too quickly or too slowly, bad things can happen like cracking and crazing.
All of the glazes used at Prairie Fire Pottery are made from scratch, based on original recipes. We do not use any commercial glazes.
The next big factor in producing vivid glaze colors is how the kiln is fired. Tama fires to 2400° (Cone 10) in a reduction atmosphere. The term “reduction” is referring to the amount of free oxygen that is made available to the kiln during the firing process. By reducing the amount of free oxygen, the forces of combustion seek out and strip away molecular oxygen held in chemical bond within the very clay and glazes themselves. This is a transformative event that dramatically changes the look of the pottery.
What are glazes?
First, ceramic glazes are not paint. They are ground rock and minerals. They have many of the same properties as clay itself. Hence, they can be readily blended together. Once carefully measured and mixed with water, glazes take on the look of muddy water. Their thickness or viscosity can also be controlled which further affects their appearance when fired. Some glazes have a color tint, but most are monochromatic. Color will appear only after firing. When applied to the clay body, glazes absorb into the pours of the clay. During the firing process the clay and glaze become fused into one.
Where did you learn to make pottery?
Tama received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. During those years she was fortunate to work closely with Japanese ceramist, Kesuke Ueno, from whom she learned much about glaze development and kiln firing.
What techniques do you use to make your pottery?
We utilize a variety of production techniques including wheel-throwing, hand building, and pressing.
Is your pottery made in America?
Yes, absolutely. And that goes for every product in our showroom. Everything at Prairie Fire Pottery is made in America.
Is your pottery signed and dated?
Yes. There are a couple of different ways we do it. Our production pieces (these are items that we replicate in large quantities) are stamped with a pottery mark. Whereas our one-of-a-kind pieces have an inscribed signature and date.
What do those small symbols on the bottom represent?
In addition to the pottery mark or inscribed signature, every piece will have the mark of the production assistant who also worked on that piece. These symbols will vary. You might see, for example, a musical note or a turtle. Each one is associated with different production assistant.
Do you make custom work?
Sometimes, but not often.
Are dinner sets available?
Yes, we can certainly make a multi-piece dinner set. The best way to proceed is to phone or email us with your request. We will arrange a meeting with Tama to discuss all the details and timeline.
Yes, we can put together complete dinner ware sets in various quantities and glaze combinations. For that, it is best to contact us and we’ll have you discuss the details directly with Tama.
Do you make cremation urns?
Yes, we do. We try to keep a assortment of styles and sizes on hand including smaller urns for dividing ashes or for pets.
Ordering and Shipping
How will my pottery order be packed for shipping?
Our packing skills are second to none. Next to the beauty of our pottery, we are best known for our superb packing. Each pottery order is stretch wrapped securely onto a thick corrugated cardboard flat that fits snugly into a cardboard box. Its contents are further protected by an assortment of foam, packing peanuts, and large bubble packs. It is a rare event when we have pottery damaged in shipping. By “rare” I mean something on the order of one claim every 3 or 4 years. Rest assured, your pottery will be well protected.
How are shipping costs calculated?
$12 for merchandise totaling up to $45.
$15 for merchandise totaling between $46 and $90
$20 for merchandise totaling between $91 and $200.
$24 for merchandise totaling over $200.
What are my shipping carrier options?
We use two carriers: Fed Ex and U.S. Postal Service.
What happens if my pottery order is damaged in shipping?
Contact us immediately. We will notify the carrier and handle all the details. We will also work with you in determining if you would like a replacement piece or a refund. Damage claims are rare. But when they happen we’ll step in and make it good.
Can I return my order?
Yes. We offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on every purchase. If you are not completely satisfied with your purchase you may return it for a refund, exchange, or store credit within 30 days of purchase.
What payment methods do you accept?
We accept all major credit cards. Our shopping cart is secure and encrypted. Our website is verified secure by Trustwave. To view our certificate credentials, click on the blue Trustwave logo at the bottom of the home page.