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who pays?/wood kilns

updated sun 26 sep 04


mel jacobson on sat 25 sep 04

there is a perception that art centers, schools and groups
just `order` a wood fired kiln. just like a thousand pounds of clay.

`we want that experience. it is a part of our
life now. wood firing.`

our art center hires donovan palmquist to build kilns.
they are wonderful kins. state of the art.
no question, he is the best there is...and is a good friend
of mine. i have great respect for his ability to build a great kiln.
any kind, shape or size.
but, many thousands of dollars. many.
i am sure that a decent hand built wood fired kiln
would price out at 15,000 bucks. ready to fire.
add the salt kiln and you have about 25,000 bucks worth
of kilns. who in the hell pays for that?
i kept asking the question.

`can't the staff help and maybe get a group and build it
themselves?` oh, no mel, you don't understand.
`that mel, is so ni/eve.`

i say...`hell, i go all over the country, helping people build kilns.
they love them.` i could help....`no, no...have to have a
kiln guy with a master license.`

diane panicoli at eastern michigan is building one right now...with
her students. it will be a dandy.
karen t built her kiln. the more help she got, the harder it was
to build. male kiln architects, kiln builders know everything.

anyway. i always hear the same argument, `we need wood fired
kilns, we need to learn, we need to get into better shows and
have to have our pots fired in wood fired kilns. we need to
have sea shells on our pots.` (i understood tony.)
they all have to look alike. `the wood look`. or you are not
a part of the club. not many dare step out on the small branches.

and, it is like karen and my story of wood firing.
`god, i want to help, but my dog has a clipping tomorrow....
can you get these 12 pots in a good spot, have a show coming up.
i would like that first prize.`

`or, gloves, we need gloves, why?`
or, chain saw lessons, who give those, i don't like chain saws or
axes.....let mel do that.`

or, they show up in shorts, halter top and sandals. (they left their
good spike heels in the car. or, they come dressed in plastic
pants and shirt. `hell, i only have polyester. wears like iron.`

well, to end this. kilns are expensive, wood is not always easy
to get. it takes tons of planning and hands to fire a great
anagama. people have to make strong commitments to the
project. and, keep the commitment after they get their
12 pots fired....and get in the show. talk is cheap. we have all
been there.
so, if you want a wood fired kiln. take a deep breath, get organized,
check your bank book, and your tolerance for sweating.

Minnetonka, Minnesota, U.S.A.
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