Kiln Construction

1000 Mugs to build a kiln

I was around the age of 25 when I decided that a large kiln would best suit my needs.  At the time, I was working as a production thrower during the day and making my pots at night.  I was turning 500 to 1,000lbs a week and going to six shows a year.  The production throwing was limiting the growth of my work so I kicked myself out of it.  I was making more money production throwing, but I wasn't happy with the pace of improvement in my own work.  

A large kiln would allow me to work like I did as a production thrower.  I don't want to make 5 mugs, I want to make 500.  That's when a single shape improves. The kiln I was firing at that time, a gas fired salt kiln, would only hold one large pot at a time and there was no way for me to get into a rhythm of making big pots.  I needed a kiln that could fire a dozen or so at a time.   Having a large kiln also allows me to work without interruption.  I can work months at a time making and then have a single firing once every few months.  

If I had an open gallery that needed to stay full of pots all of the time, I could keep going with my smaller kiln that I'd have to fire every week to keep the shop full for the customers that come in on the weekend.  There's already too many distractions for me in being a potter without even having an open store-- you're gathering materials, advertising, emails, shipping, bookkeeping, traveling for shows, etc, and all of that keeps you from making pots.  With a big kiln you can focus on making and then have home openings and go to pottery shows and exhibitions.  I wanted to limit the amount of time doing all of these other things so I can maximize my time in the shop.  A big kiln was the way to go. 

There was a catch. I needed to come up with a way to raise the money I'd need to build my kiln.  I had this crazy idea of making 1,000 mugs and hosting a fundraiser that would help to offset a significant portion of the kiln building costs.  Five weeks later,  1,000 mugs were at the new site for sale.  

Hindsight, I should have gone for 2,000 mugs instead of 1,000!  The sale was a success and I I never would have been able to start the build without having done this fundraiser.  I'm so incredibly thankful to have the support of my friends, family, and my customers. After the sale I was ready to start construction on the kiln shed.