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:

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