Saturday, May 29, 2010

Demolition Derby

Well, more like demolition debris. I had a plan to invite all the strong guys I know to come and help take apart the kiln; in fact that was set for June 5. But my brother-in-law, visiting from Massachusetts, had a better idea: just bust it up. Since I had already decided I was not planning to re-use the arch, I should have thought of that myself. So he grabbed his two-pound sledge and we went to work.

There were some salvagable brick in the walls -- not that I expect to need them, but it's better to have too many. The rest could, I suppose be ground up to make castable -- any takers?

Friday, May 21, 2010

First Steps

Doug and I spent last Sunday loading brick into a rental truck. Though it took all day, it was less arduous than I had imagined it would be; we took plenty of breaks and had assistance from Reeder Fahnestock, Watershed's Facilities Director. The very brittle soft brick are in the cardboard boxes in the back, the hardbrick in front to help prevent the boxes shifting.

Now that the brick are home, they seem to be demanding to be made into a kiln; both Doug and I find ourselves exponentially more eager to move forward. I came home from the IPTOG Monday night to discover that he had stripped the kiln; all of the loose furniture and brick, including the 150 pound doors, had already been removed. If I had known this was happening, I would have attempted to forbid it, as it's too easy for a person to get hurt moving such heavy objects alone, and no one to call for help if an injury did occur. However, it's done now: no harm, no foul.

The arch is another matter. It is composed of two enormous bloocks of castable, each of which weigh in excess of 250 pounds. Or not; I don't know. I'm just guessing, but I know that even when they were sitting on smooth concrete, I couldn't even budge them, pushing with all my might. I am not a large woman but I can carry around 100 pounds if I need to, so I know they must be approximately a shitload more than that. I had originally thought to re-use the castable arch, but now I am thinking, I might as well build the kiln I really want -- which is to say, bigger -- so I don't end up doing this all over again in a couple of years. In order to get bigger, I need to widen the kiln as well as make it taller (tallen it?) as an approximate cube is the most efficient shape for firing. 

Anyway, the next thing is to lift those monsters off the walls, and then take down the walls, which are themselves crazy-heavy, but we could probably partially deconstruct them before moving, as we will have no further need of them . Calling all he-men!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Last Bisque

I unloaded the last bisque firing from my old kiln yesterday. I am not sure how to feel about this. On the one hand, I am not sentimental about inanimate objects, on the other, in some ways a kiln, when it is firing, almost seems alive. On the third hand, I am greatly looking forward to the new kiln, which will make my life a whole lot easier once it is built.

There's the rub for lazy me: between now and that happy day lies a tremendous, daunting amount of work. So rather than begin it, I'd rather sit here and eulogize my elderly dragon.

Four friends and I bought the kiln in late 2004. We thought we had a home for it. My studio in Portland was located in an industrial building in the Munjoy Hill neighborhood (a delightful place. I lived in the neighborhood also, and it always reminded me of Sesame Street, if Sesame Street had overlooked Casco Bay.) When I called my studio landlord, he readily agreed we could keep and fire the kiln there --  suspiciously readily, I now see. I thought I had done a pretty good job of describing the kiln and firing, but once he saw it in place, he very politely freaked out. I admit its appearance does not inspire confidence. 

We tried hard to persuade him. We brought him to Portland Pottery to see a gas kiln in action. We submitted a plan in accordance with city codes for fireproofing the studio. He was having none of it. Thankfully he wigged out befpre the kiln was plumbed; I would have really been pissed if we'd taken on all that trouble and expense. 

Next we searched for a home for it in Portland. I visited studios and warehouses; I made a hundred phone calls. No thing. This went on for months, during which time I purchased a home in Augusta, 50 miles away. Shortly thereafter, my studiomate, who is one of the kiln partners and whose space thte disassembled kiln was mostly occupying, finally lost patience and said the kiln had to go, somewhere, anywhere. He needed his space back. 

Though I felt selfish doing it, we took the kiln to my place in Augusta. The fact was it needed a home, and I had a place for it. Unfortunately that meant it was 50 miles away from the other partners. I remained open to moving it should a location arise, but once it was homed, we sort of stopped looking. Good thing, too, because it turned out to be unsuitable for Cone 10 reducation firing. I've been using it as a bisque kiln and doind my firings at the Watershed Center, and longing for the day I could glaze fire at home. Imagine loading over a few days, in good weather: how much easier would that be? Imagine weeding the garden or cleaning up the studio, or, hey, getting a jump on the next firing while the cones fell. 

Now that time is upon me. The brick are waiting, the plan is laid down...It's time to say goodbye, and hello. 

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Dog Story

A couple of years ago, my husband and I adopted a dog. Not entirely by choice, but it has nevertheless worked out pretty well. He has an oddball name, given him by my brother-in-law, but to spare explanations I just sort of nicknamed him Q. This pleases me because it is the initial of his actual name (Queequeg) and because it is the name of a recurring Star Trek villain (or anti-hero, perhaps?)

I promise I am going somewhere with this.

Anyway, Q has recently taken to running. We often keep him off leash in the yard, but lately -- and only after dark -- he has been waiting for a moment when no one is looking, and disappearing. He is a wily dog, and knows that if we find him, the fun is over; so we've come to realize that combing the neighborhood calling for him is counter-productive at best, and brings him home no sooner than lying in bed staring at the ceiling and praying he doesn't get hit by a car, encounter a coyote, eat something poisonous, etc. He returns sometime between 3 and 5 am. This has happened maybe six times in the last two months; though he has now lost his off-leash privileges, last night he escaped when the knot holding his rope to the porch failed. I refuse to believe that he untied it, but I know he would if he could.

(Not to get too far off on a tangent, but I feel I need to say, it's not like he's stuck in the house, pent up and bored all the time. He gets two, or more, long walks every day; he is free to run the 30 acres of Watershed, and play with the resident pooches, when I fire the kilns there; just yesterday he spent the day with me at Kennebec River Artisans to reprise his role as store greeter. He really has no excuse.)

Enormous procrastinator that I am, I wind up kicking myself that I've not yet gotten one of those tags made with our contact information. I always swear I will do it, while he is missing, and then forget about it after he comes back. While waiting for him last night, I had a bright idea: why don't I make him a name tag? Might as well do something useful since I won't be sleeping anyway. So I got up, trundled to the studio in my jammies (Yay for having my studio in the house!) and set to work. Something not too heavy, with no sharp edges; I think I still have some alphabet pasta around here? Here's what I came up with:

I felt a little silly doing it, but I obscured the number because it seemed like a poor idea to post it on the internet. Not that we ever answer the phone anyway. Much to my surprise, there are no 6s in alphabet pasta. No Is either. A disproportionate number of 8s. Still, nothing I couldn't work around. After I made this one (and Q still was not home) I thought, maybe other pet owners would like something a little more stylish than those metal bone-shapes with stamped number, so I made a sample:

I famously hate custom work, of course, but this feels different. Custom dog tags! I'm doing it.

Q is home again, and now secured to a chain instead of a rope. He knows I am pissed off, but I can't stay mad for long. (He knows that, too.) I might have made a mistake, giving him such a mischeivious namesake.