Our New Urban Wood Kiln!
I am currently on a hiatus from making work. That does not by any stretch of the imagination mean that I am not very busy. The current project is the construction of a new wood kiln at the University of Louisville, where I teach. After more than month of planning and some very in depth investigations, Todd Burns decided that for our program, the Manabigama design would be the best choice. I agreed.
The Manabigama is a new and highly popular kiln design, the brainchild of John Thies and Bill Van Gilder. These kilns are springing up all over the country for their practicality in the group studio, educational, and workshop settings. Basically a miniaturized and super-powered anagama kiln, the Manabigama apparently reaches target temperature with ease, has highly directional firing effects, and is small enough that a single person could make enough work to fill it regularly, and a class can do a single assignment and fire it as a group. It uses very little wood in woodkiln standards, about a cord per firing.
We began construction of our new kiln on Tuesday. We have gotten some help from a number of our students, as well as some local potters and students from a neighboring university, IU Southeast, and my friend Ryan Shortridge from Bloomington. We have been chugging along and making good – but meticulously careful – progress. Sore from head to toe only a few days into the build, I will not soon forget how much labor it takes to build one of these things.
So far, we have laid the cinder block to make the foundation the right shape for the kiln, then put in the firebox (where the wood will actually be burning), the floor of the kiln, and have constructed a form to build the arch around. Each of these things has taken twice the time we had planned. Both Todd and I are quite anal retentive with everything concerning craftsmanship, and hold firmly to the belief that things we make can only be perfect. As with making art, it takes however long it takes to do it right, no half-assing anything just to save time or energy.
Perhaps my favorite thing about this new kiln we are building is that it is right out the back door and will be totally covered by our kiln pad roof!
More updates to come…