[Clayart] Fire in the firing kiln

Deborah Thuman via Clayart clayart at lists.clayartworld.com
Thu Feb 12 13:15:24 EST 2015

New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

On Feb 12, 2015, at 10:19 AM, mudman at hal-pc.org wrote:

>> Great, funny story....... but please, do tell....... where is the
> institution to which you refer and its name?
> Craig
> 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.
>> Some genius had installed that kiln so the control panel was on the side
>> of the kiln closest to the wall. Close as in you better not gain too much
>> weight or you will never be able to fire the kiln because you will be too
>> large to fit into the slither space and press buttons.
>> No one knew then or knows now where the shutoff for the gas is. Best
>> guess: it's under a locked wire cage. No one knew or knows where the key
>> to the cage is kept. Plus, you need a wrench (no one knows where that is,
>> either) to shut off the gas if you can manage to get inside the locked
>> metal cage. Even the fully manual gas kilns outside have no main shutoff.
>> Gas shutoff for each kiln was BEHIND the kiln. The area around the kiln
>> was considered a wonderful place to store all sorts of combustibles. Best
>> manic episode I ever had was just before I fired one of the outside kilns.
>> I picked up each piece of wood which was strewn around the kiln and tossed
>> it as far as I could.  I was told if I saw a kiln fire, run and don't
>> stop.
>> But wait! There's more. There's a fire department on campus. Good, right?
>> Maybe. There was no way to get from the fire department to the art
>> building without going off campus and then coming back on campus via a
>> road that goes nowhere. One night, a sculpture student got hungry and
>> wanted to make toast. Student used a torch to make the toast and that set
>> off the fire alarm. The art building is an antique - meaning it's
>> considerably older than I am. If OSHA ever went through that building, the
>> place would be condemned. It's a toxic waste dump.
>> So... the alarm is going off and we all leave. And wait. And wait. And
>> wait. Eventually, the firetruck with two firefighters arrived. They
>> parked. And stayed in the truck. I could see through the art building
>> windows that two campus police officers wearing NO safety equipment
>> searching the building for a fire. After the police found no fire, the
>> firefighters left.
>> So what happened to the Blaauw with the flames shooting out around the
>> door? The antidote was: grab a pair of heavy duty gloves and push on the
>> door. That should close the door and eliminate the flames. Then, while
>> pushing on the door, reach around and make sure the door was properly
>> fastened closed.
>> And that's what I learned in school.
>> My kiln? It's in a metal kiln house that Jim built. There's about a 1 foot
>> gap between the top of the walls and the roof. There's one of those whirly
>> things in the roof. The kind where when the wind blows, the whirly thing
>> whirls around and sucks the hot air out of the kiln house.
>> There's a lever to control the gas on the floor of the kiln house, right
>> inside the door. Doors are open and held open with a handy cement block
>> when the kiln is being fired. There's a shutoff at the regular house
>> (which is on the other side of the patio across from the kiln house and
>> there's an outside shutoff). There's a shutoff at the propane tank. So
>> far, thank you God, there hasn't been a problem.
>> Deb Thuman
>> debthuman at verizon.net
>> http://debthuman.blog.com/
>> http://www.etsy.com/shop/DebThuman
>> http://www.facebook.com/pages/Deb-Thumans-Art-Page/167529715986
>> “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be
>> criticized anyway.”
>> ― Eleanor Roosevel
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