Making the “MacKenzie” salt shaker.

Many people associate this little salt shaker with the Minnesota potter Warren MacKenzie. He has made a lot of them. A friend of mine traveling in rural France saw them in a traditional potter’s showroom. Who knows. Warren did not come up with the design. As the story goes he was teaching a class when one of the students came in with a salt shaker and asked Warren if he would show them how to make one. Warren asked the student where that one had come from. The student replied that his teacher had made it to which Warren replied why don’t you have the teacher show you. The student replied that the teacher wouldn’t, that it e=was a secret. Warren then suggested that this was no teacher.
I was eating lunch with Warren and Nancy some years ago at their home in Stillwater where I first saw one of the salt shakers. As I was examining it Warren gave me some pointers on making one. I’ll pass the information along.
I start with a centered ball of about one pound of clay.
I open the clay leaving the clay in the middle a bit thicker than the rest of the bottom.
I thin open the bottom of the pot all the way to the wheel head.
I pull up a little bitty cylinder in the center of the pot.
I close the cylinder off forming a cone.
The a start pulling up the outside walls
See the cute little cone down in there?
library-17654.jpg library-17655.jpg
I taper the walls in and close off the top.
With the top sealed off I shape the salt shaker into whatever shape I want. I like a slightly onion dome shape.

After the shaker is leather hard I put it in a chuck and trim the outside edge and trim out the inside of the cone. A needle tool works best for the inside. I then bore a hole in the center of the cone with a one eighth inch drill bit. That size works best according to MacKenzie. If it is smaller the salt takes too long to load. If it is larger the slat comes out too fast. In use the salt will only come out if the shaker is shaken up and down. If it is shaken side to side nothing comes out.
People always ask if they can put pepper in this pot. I tell them to use a small pepper mill.


5 Responses to “Making the “MacKenzie” salt shaker.”

  1. John Says:

    I love this design and it’s really cleaver, I’ve never seen anything like it. I think I’m going to go home and try to make it tonight! Thanks for everything that you do, you’re a strong inspiration to me. I bought a bowl and cup from you and my wife promptly claimed it for herself when we started dating. Your work is beautiful!!

  2. Ron Mello Says:

    Thanks for the post. These are like mine..You forgot to leave a hole in the inside cylinder for the salt to be put in and shake out….

  3. Achola Says:

    i think murdoch’s plan is to atcartt more readers by opening up the website, and to increase ad revenue based on this wider readership. this strategy would make sense if the expected increase in ad revenue is higher than the expected drop in online subscription fees ($79 x 800k users = around US$63 mn). (see for some idea of the potential scale of ad revenue)murdoch’s track record indicates that he is one who likes scale, created through pandering to the masses.

  4. Anne Says:

    I am using one of my salt shakers as an introduction to a lesson on questioning. So excited to find this post to show to the kids.

  5. DeAnna Says:

    I first saw the MacKenzie salt shaker at the MN Renaissance Festival, at one of the food booths. They did not know the maker. Do you make and sell these by chance?

Leave a Reply