Rewire Kiln

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

During my teenage years, art was an outlet for me. In particular, I very much enjoyed making pottery. When I was dealing with emotions, life, trauma, the daily doldrums, I coped by throwing myself into the act of creation. There was always something deeply satisfying about pottery because it is a very structural art form. By that I mean that it has a very analytical component to it because you have to abide by and work with the laws of physics. I always found this aspect of it to fit me well because I thrive in constrained environments. I view pottery/ceramics as an inherently constrained medium, in very much the same way as programming. However, while you have to make a concerted effort to convince a layperson that coding is as much art as engineering, you don't have this problem with pottery.

My interest in, and obsession with, pottery reached its nadir my junior year in high school when I used my earnings from working doggedly at Panera Bread to purchase a brand new electric pottery wheel and setup a studio in my parents' basement, instead of buying a car. A couple years later, I entered my freshman year at Kansas State University with the idea that I would major in ceramics. I ended up switching to the humanities after my first year of pottery classes, but not because I lost my love for pottery. I realized that I did not want to do it for money, and did not want to try to make a career of it.

A couple years later, I found a tiny used kiln in a pawn shop in Manhattan (KS) and bought it for $300.

It had a strange power plug on it, so with the help of an electrical engineering friend, I gerry-rigged an outlet in the basement of the house I was renting to accept the strange sized and shaped plug. It was a three-pronged plug like an ordinary 240V electrical range plug, but it was about half the size.

I now live in Ann Arbor and the house I rent here has an ordinarily sized electric range outlet in the basement next to the washer-dryer. Not having my handy electrician friend here to help me, I decided to modify the kiln itself to use the more standard, larger-sized 240V plug. So, I bought an electric range wire...

Took apart the kiln's electrical housing...

And removed the old wire and rewired it with the range wire...

It works!

[picture of finished bowl]

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