My Kiln, a.k.a. the "Silver Elephant"

I will call her "Ellie" for short. Ready to christen her with a first firing and a nice bottle of wine, which I hope to share on October 29th, when we have the Fall Open Studio event. This is a 40 year old dream come true, and the dress rehersal is over, time to get this show fired up!


The Kiln Shed

Stairway to HeavenEllie

My Man

In Place"Bricking it Up"Setting the Arch Did I mention that he cuts brick?

 The KeystoneThe Wedgie I love this man who wears the apron in the house. When I was a young woman graduating from the University of Illinois, I knew I could not begin to build this kiln "without a man in my life". I am not talking about the heavy lifting, I am talking about the gas lines, the construction,  the math, the logistics, the supplies, the fittings, the framing, the burners, and while I am confident about firing it by myself, no way could I have orchestrated this without the man in the apron, Howard David Peller. Thanks honey!


NOT Much Progress to Report Report

Ok, so this in not anything that I am terribly happy about, but some really good things may just take a while to get accomplished, and in between the idea and the completion is a whole lot of fermenting. Sometimes formenting can be all gurgly and cause indegestion, and sometimes maybe what one gets is a really good bottle of wine? Hard to tell, the not knowing, yet. Still feeling like a stomach ache.

Howard and I did do some fairs together this summer...Columbus, Ann Arbor, Y-Bridge, and Salt Fork. Upper Arlington next week. Regardless of the sales, I think we have concluded that we would just rather be doing other things with our summer time. Howard did design and build a pretty fabulous booth out of Muskingum River wood, and Coulsons up the hill did a great job with the metal bases. Thanks to Mike, Mark, and crew.

Had a great time with three communities of children, in Roseville, Shawnee, and Somerset. Thanks to Brian Wagner, Tom Johnson, the Appalachian Foundation of Perry County, the Muskingum County Community Foundation, John Winnenberg, Missy Stevens, Kelsey Grime, Beverly Bell, Kristina Parsley of BBBS Perry County, and last but not least, the JFS of Perry County employees who helped pull much of this off for at risk children in our county. Little Urchins!

More good was having Lynnie Loo here for a day painting for me...the Black Lotus pattern on a dinnerware order. I suppose I could have painted it myself, but it seemed to be more fun to have Lynne here to do it. Lynne was my lead painter at Fioriware for 17 or 19 years, whatever, the whole shot, and it is her lovely hand that described so many of the best patterns. Her husband Charlie accompanied her here, and we had lunch, and chat, and paint, and chat, and hell, it was a nice day. Got one, vintage year here, and still looks great in a Fioriware apron.

I did get back to Vermont in July to spend a few weeks with my Mom, and while there took a natural dye class with Jane Woodhouse, where we worked with cochineal, logwood, weld, indigo, osage orange, and cutch. Wonderful array of colors, looking forward to the dye kitchen this next month.

And then there is....the big silver elephant which is NOT IN MY ROOM YET! Impatiently. Waiting. For the shed to be. Built. A carport is looking pretty good.

Had a 60th Birthday. Reporting that everything else is pretty much....the same.


The Road Not Taken

I had a pretty fabulous ceramic education, which I began at S.U.N.Y at Stoneybrook, after a failed year at an all girls school in upstate NY. My instructor was a gentleman named Dennis Moss. I remember him being incredibly patient and kind, and helping me to learn to "center" on my own. Taking classes at Stonybrook that year launched me to summer school at Boston University, and I never looked back. My parents moved off the island the following year and I never had the opportunity to thank him.

I have no memories of firing reduction kilns from that year, but if I remember the pieces I made (even my mother does not have them!) they were high fired gas pieces. At BU, at the Program in Artisanry, we were left pretty much on our own to fire off the big burners, and it was a terrifying experience for me, in all honesty, especially when the kiln was loaded with final projects at the end of the second year. What I do remember is trying to pull an all nighter, and the cone pats, still wet, blew up all over the kiln, necessitating the unpacking of the whole shebang the next morning. The best lessons are the ones hardest learned.

My senior project went no better at the University of Illinois, two years later. I had forgotten to put the copper oxide into my "Kelly Green" glaze, and the results, while not terrible, were dissapointing. Milqtoast.

After I graduated and moved to Vermont to set up my own studio, firing electric seemed a less stressful way for me to accomplish my dinnerware and tile making goals. The body of work I was interested in making did not require gas lines, hard brick, chimneys, and more crucially, a MAN TO HELP WITH THE HEAVY LIFTING!! Did not have one.

Spending the last 40 years (yes, this is my 60th year) working in the field with a narrow electric firing focus has been rewarding in many ways. But for the last several, I have desired to make new work, and explore different glaze recipies, clay bodies, and firing temperatures. Returning to school this fall at The Ohio State University was a blast...I fired cone 6 reduction, cone 6 soda, both stoneware, and cone 10 reduction and cone 10 soda, with a porcelain body. I tested probably 40 different glazes, many from my card files dating back to Boston University and the University of Illinois! Interestingly, the same base glazes are still kicking around on the internet. I wanted my own kiln.

This week, I reunited with University of Illinois studio and classmate Gail Russell, from Peachblow Pottery, in Sunbury Ohio. She sold me her very first kiln, built by her back in the 1980's. My "MAN", Howard Peller, helped me pack the parts and pieces into the back of the truck.

Chimney, stack, shelves, brick, burners, frame, all delivered to Coulsons up the street, where Brian and Mark will be reassembling and creating new walls and roof. Hope to have a foundation poured for it in June, behind the barn. Will fire it off before the bluebirds leave in August.