Oliver Wendell Kiln, world traveler

>>, tools & supplies>Oliver Wendell Kiln, world traveler


When embarking on a career as an artist, it’s important to have a well-traveled kiln. And so Oliver Wendell, my new kiln, appears to be taking the long way home.

In December, after enough kiln travails to fill a book, I bought a kiln from Olympic. They kindly belled and whistled it for my particular casting needs. (more detail if I ever get to actually turn the dratted thing on)

Naturally, a week or so later I had no place to put it. Among other things, I’d discovered that sculpture is my life and my life is turning my house into a superfund site. My house issued an ultimatum: “Stop with the casting, dump all that plaster/fiberglass/rubber crud and clean the wax off the ceiling, or we’re through!”

I called the realtor that afternoon.

(BTW, I’m in search of a live/work studio or empty storefront/warehouse big enough to hold two giant kilns, five casting workstations, assorted coldworking machines, a network of computers, 421 pounds of frit and 700 pounds of assorted molds, powders, waxes and goos, in Portland or Vancouver. Preferably with a hotplate, toilet, shower and about three miles of bookshelves. Cheap. Buzz me if you know of something).

Now, Oliver Wendell Kiln is seven feet tall, weighs 425 pounds and must be hardwired into a brand new 70-amp circuit. My realtor was unwilling to stage both the house AND the kiln, and my electrician said “Are you nuts?” when I asked if he could rig temporary power for Ollie until we moved.

So I called Olympic and said “STOP!!!! DON’T BUILD THE KILN YET!!!! HOLD IT THERE UNTIL IT HAS A HOME!!!!” No problem, they said. “We already have your money, so it’s copacetic. We’ll put everything in the warehouse and wait for your call.”

Two weeks later, Ollie landed on my driveway. Arrrrrrgh.

Apparently you can’t just send a kiln back to Georgia. First, it costs beaucoup bucks to get it back there (and then out here again). Second, all that traveling ain’t good for kilns. “Can’t you just stick it someplace?” pleaded Olympic.

After much chaffering, Olympic agreed that they’d made a bit of a mistake and that they should keep charge of the kiln until they could deliver it to its new home, as promised. They decided it was cheaper to store the kiln in Portland than to send it back, so they’re putting Ollie up in a hotel, er, storage unit until I’m ready for him.

A couple days later, I met Ollie and his driver in front of the storage facility. Turned out the unit’s door was exactly two feet narrower than Ollie’s pallet. We rented a larger room…but the driver couldn’t figure out how to get Ollie off the truck and instead drove him back to the freight terminal.

Three days later, Ollie returned. This time the driver couldn’t get the kiln over the edge of the storage unit, even though he’d brought 1 (ONE) quarter-inch sheet of plywood to lay down for a ramp. (Math problem: How many sheets of quarter-inch plywood does it take to support 425 pounds of kiln moving up an incline? Solution: Damifino, but “one” is the wrong answer.)

And so Ollie toured Portland for a couple more days. Today, Olympic called. “We’ve hired a different crew. Can you meet them at the terminal, make sure the kiln’s OK and watch them put it in the storage unit?”

Four hours later, Ollie was finally snug in his new digs. Here’s the proof:

[kml_flashembed fversion=”8.0.0″ movie=”https://www.morganica.com/kilnmove.swf” targetclass=”flashmovie” publishmethod=”static” width=”550″ height=”400″]

Get Adobe Flash player




  1. Update: Jashawn | Cynthia March 3, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    […] and I have been racketing through the adventures of Ollie-the-kiln, and talking off and on about what’s going on in our lives. I like her, she cares, and when […]

  2. Dee Janssen February 28, 2009 at 11:30 am

    OHG!!!! what a snafu olympic created! i hope ollie is ok under all that wrapping with the tipping, sitting on his side, rolling up and down ramps, etc. so how’s the hunt for a new abode/studio coming along?

  3. jenn February 28, 2009 at 12:03 am

    I hope you get to try your kiln out soon- I know the waiting would kill me. Your photo essay reminds why I am no rush to move my studio.

    Best of Luck.

  4. cynthia February 27, 2009 at 7:22 pm

    Thanks for the kind words, Kathleen. Even though I don’t have the USE of Ollie, he’s so far inspired four different pieces, which means I’ve got ready-to-be-cast stuff coming out my ears and no place to fire. Kinda tantalizing, that. (the smallest of the new pieces needs at least a 20-inch high firing chamber and most fusing kilns stop at 13 inches…hence the birth of Ollie)

    Actually, the shallowness of a fusing kiln is exactly why I started doing relief panels, and I’ve got three of those ready for mold-making right now. So at least I’m keeping busy… 😉

  5. Kathleen Krucoff February 27, 2009 at 1:29 pm

    Hey Cynthia!

    First, congrats on Ollie, under all that shrink wrap he must be quite the beauty/beast! You must have patience galore, as it would kill me to know he’s just ready for use after set up, electrical, new place, etc

    I hope you find a suitable place quickly and your current one sells without much hassle.

    Ollie is formidable and I am looking forward to seeing the wonderful things you can create with him.

    Have a great weekend.

  6. cynthia February 27, 2009 at 8:56 am

    I’m a little curious about that myself, although most of the photos show the kiln on its side, not standing upright.

    The 7-foot part is the crane assembly that lifts the main chamber off the platform, like a bell kiln. It needs to be 7 feet tall to let me place the tallest molds underneath, so if it’s not, Olympic and I will be talking… 😉

    By the terms of the agreement, though (and safety for subsequent transport) I can’t actually unwrap the thing until I take formal possession. That means I remain in suspense until Ollie finally comes home. sigh

  7. gary February 27, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Uh, unless that guy is WAY tall, it sure doesn’t like like a 7′ tall kiln. Perhaps with legs on it? “Hey lady, nice legs on that kiln….” Nyuk, Nyuk, Nyuk.

    Nice photos!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: