Yesterday, Saturday, September 26th, the ceramics department held Bowl-a-thon.  Students, potters, and folks from the community who could throw a bowl, wedge clay, or just wanted to help were welcome to participate.  All the bowls made are going to be fired and donated to Cookin' on the Square in Cookeville, TN.  This event benefits Habitat for Humanity and is held the last Friday of October (the 30th this year).   I've already got the first load in the kilns to be bisque-fired.  
After making bowls all morning long, the masses were hungry.  The doughnuts gave us enough of a sugar buzz to work until lunch, but this pizza and Snapple didn't last long. 

Once lunch was finished, it was time to get back on the wheel.  Here I am throwing.  Not my usual method of making with clay as evidenced by the mound of scrap.  I'm usually a hand-builder, but the opportunity to throw was too tempting to resist.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure how many bowls were made, but all the carts in the kiln room were full. I won't do an official count until they are being packed  for delivery. 

The NEW Soda Kiln

The month of September has disappeared in a flurry of activity, namely, kiln building.  After we tore down the Raku Kiln, the previous Soda Kiln, and small test soda, it was time to rebuild the Soda Kiln in its new home.  The advanced students were a tremendous help rebuilding the kiln.  Here some of them (Morgan, Brendan, and Ryan) are prepping the arch for the castable we were using for the key. 
Once we poured the castable, it was time for a mudding of the arch.  This is just the first layer of a combination of recycle clay, sand, and sawdust.  After this came a layer of scrap soft brick, then more of this yummy goo.

Then came the chimney, at least the brick part of it.  We moved the damper to the front side of the chimney for easier access.

Vince and Brendan placed the culvert on top of the brick part of the chimney.  This extends through the metal roof and is held in place with more castable.  I had an adventurous time picking up the culvert pipe in Cookeville. It was during a downpour, which after three weeks of rain, became a flood.  I was very glad to be in the Craft Center's truck and not my car! 

Here is our "new" burner system.  Same burners as the last one, but a more uniform piping system, and easier access to the valves.  Gotta love the yellow!

Isn't she a beauty?  Our new soda kiln.  I wonder who will be the first to fire her. 


Exhibiton Opening

The Wichita All Media National Craft Exhibition opens today.  My piece titled Solitary Dinner was juried into the exhibition.  The dates for the show are September 4 - October 18, 2009 with the opening reception tonight from 5-7pm.  I wish I was able to attend, but maybe they will post pictures online.


Raku Kiln Takedown

Due to unforseen events this summer we, the clay studio, need to move our soda kiln to the area where our raku kiln lives.  In order to accomplish this, we had to remove the raku kiln.  This does not mean the end of raku here at the craft center, just an adjustment in kiln use.  
Yesterday was the day of demolition for our very old, and remarkably still good raku kiln.  Here Vince Pitelka, head of clay at ACC, is using the cutting torch to remove the steel frame from around the soft brick.  John Cole is lending a hand. 

We were concerned about the roof collapsing once we cut the frame off.  Fortunately it did not.  The bricks at in the bottom of the kiln have been pulled out of the roof.
Here it is in mid-takedown.  We were able to salvage quite a bit of soft brick.  Yay!  More to use for other things and kilns.
Now we are down to the floor of the kiln.  All kinds of thing melted into it.  Some of the debris had amazing sculptural qualities. 
Instead of pouring a pad of concrete to level the kiln, whoever built the raku kiln used mortar on each cinder block to level it.  After many years of bearing the weight of the kiln, those cinder blocks adhered themselves to the concrete beneath.  We had to use a chisel and a pry bar to remove them.  Here the chisel caught the tip of the glove holding it in place.  Luckily Vince's fingers were not caught.

With the raku kiln gone, we now have an area to pour a concrete pad for the soda kiln.  I'll document the demolition and rebuilding of the soda in another post.

Finished Work: Holiday Sale

Here it is, some of the finished work for the Appalachian Center for Craft Holiday Sale. I am pretty pleased with the finished product. The intensity of some of the color combinations is greater than expected, but I don't mind. It is that uncertainty popping up again. These pieces along with a few other platters, bowls, and salt/pepper sets will be available at the Holiday Sale Thanksgiving weekend.