Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Keeping an eye out

For most of the summer I've had the great opportunity to be volunteering and hanging out at the Archie Bray Foundation here in Helena, Montana. There's always some sort of opening happening, or gathering..or maybe it's Wednesday Growler day at the local brewery where all the employees and artists meet to have a good pint of beer. To say the least I feel extremely grateful for being where I am.... there's always a lot happening. (even if they did reject my application for being a resident)

About a month and a half ago, a local friend told me that I could build a kiln on his property, out in Unionville, just 5 miles out of Helena in the mountains. He has a good chunk of land and lots of trees. So.. since the time I got the official word that "yah, Bobby build a wood kiln here!" ....we've talked and planned. The only thing holding back anything is our total lack of firebrick.

That is....our total lack of firebrick until two days ago. At the Bray there are two old kilns outside the pottery that haven't been fired for about a year due to their..well, lets say "structural integrity". Residents and employees have been chipping away at the demolition with sledge hammers and no real concern with salvaging any of the brick. It didn't seem like anybody wanted to do this job...and it just looked bad. Two days ago I approached Steve Lee, the director, and said..."Hey dude. So.. those two kilns there, how about I take them down in exchange for any usuable brick I might get?" He was into the idea and I've been banging away at these things for the last couple of days. Only after seeing an entire pallet of soft brick did he say, " about you take half the soft brick, those are sort of a premium". (I almost had him..... I'm wondering what else I have to do for all the softs...) And happily my very special girl came back from France a couple of days ago and jumped right into the project with me, gloves and hammer in hand.

I felt like a kid in a candy store. There are so many good bricks here! No WAY!!

I hope that by the late Fall I have these bricks cleaned up and a usable wood/salt cat kiln built so I can have a good old time during the fall and early winter months firing away... firing away and making pots for pots sake, because..damn.. we all know how fun it is to just make pots, explore new forms and fire a wood kiln.

Here's to keeping an eye out...and asking questions! woohoo!


  1. bobby: there is enuff brick in that stack to build a decent kiln. tc

  2. So I am now in the position you were at this time. I like the recent article in The Log Book in which Bede Clarke talks about this same kiln (as you probably know). I will try a read all you entries on the building of it. Probably I could just follow mirror exactly what you have done. I also have deep frost and snow to deal with as I am in Quebec, Canada. I should be able to find it but what is the kilns cubic size firing chamber? Thanks for all the posts please keep them coming.