[Clayart] Fire in the firing kiln

Bill Schran via Clayart clayart at lists.clayartworld.com
Thu Feb 12 12:24:44 EST 2015

When I moved from one campus to another back in the 1980's I closed down the ceramics program and moved the equipment to the campus where I would teach. I began the new ceramics program in a conference room nobody used. I had all the stored equipment brought from the college warehouse to me on a Friday and spent the weekend clearing out the conference room and moving all the clay equipment by myself. Monday morning I told my division chairman we now had a ceramics program. I told him a needed a few hundred bucks for lumber, got a couple guys from maintenance shop to join me over the next weekend to build a wooden shed on the loading dock to house the kilns. Put in work request to run the wiring - I helped the electrician who didn't like heights by climbing up a 12' ladder to run conduit across the ceiling. That is how I started the ceramics program where I teach.
Several years ago, with an expending program, I wanted to purchase a gas fired kiln (knew the college would not let me build one). So I called and invited the local fire marshall to the college to explain what I wanted to do and get information as to what he required. During the visit he looked at that shed we built years earlier housing the electric kilns. He just shook his head and said "no, no. no". Because I called him, was honest and knew what I was talking about he let me keep the shed, but requested I move those kilns out ASAP - call him back when that was done. He also said the city regulations required the gas kiln to be CSA certified, so at the time only Geil kilns were certified. So, instead of $6K for a kiln, I needed $17K, and oh, I needed a new building built of brick. I convinced all administrators all this was required otherwise the fire marshall would shut down the program. Since the program was growing, they built the kiln building, bought the gas kiln and moved the electric kilns to the new building. I said I would pay back the money from my account in the college foundation, about then, the head of facilities retired, he wrote me a message: "Keep your mouth shut - you know nothing". The whole project was paid from several accounts from other projects - to this day only he and I know where the money came from and I never had to pay back anything.
The fire marshall came back, was smiling and thanked me.
The original shed - still standing, now houses a spray booth...
---- Deborah Thuman via Clayart <clayart at lists.clayartworld.com> wrote: 

At the local university, there's a Blaauw kiln. Never did like that kiln. Anyway, it is a huge sucker. Only the graduate students fired kilns. As far as I knew, only three undergrad students - including me - ever fired kilns. And so the grad student loaded the kiln, shut the door, pushed the appropriate buttons, pressed START. A while later, there were flames shooting out the edges of the door. 

William "Bill" Schran
wschran at cox.net

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