I just returned from Lawrence, Kansas where I was apart of the Kansas University NCECA pre-conference. The week broke down into loading on Friday morning and firing the Noborigama kiln for three days, culminating in a fire-extravaganza on Monday evening. The kiln then cooled during the NCECA conference and was unloaded on Saturday. The 10 days I was in Kansas and Missouri was incredible, it was a tiring week of firing with friends, meeting new friends and sharing experiences with everyone.
Kansas City, MO has some of the greatest old buildings, some are empty and totally abandoned, there are vacant lots, and a population of 450,000 but felt smaller than most cities. It was a perfect place to host the largest ceramic conference in the world. It was really great to see friends whom I hadn't seen in far too long.
It was really incredible to see the unexpected and unusual things during the conference. Like Malcolm's mini anagama kiln that he built himself. Every brick was extruded weeks before and fired into miniature bricks. During the conference he set himself up in the field just outside the kiln yard and began to construct the mini-anagama all by himself. He used sand to create the inside structure that would hold the bricks up until competion of construction, then he dug all the sand out and loaded up the kiln with tiny pots (these pots were made by people that would walk by to see what Malcolm was doing). After he had a full kiln load he spent the next several hours firing the kiln. Late into the evening when all kilns were shut down and the fire extravaganza event was nearing an end, Malcolm with the help of Mat Rude and Kevin DeKeuster, hooked up a blower to assist the firing. The end result was nothing short of amazing, temperature ~1900°F, fire out the stack, and smiles on everyone's faces.
Another unusual happening during the final night of firing was the firing of the bottle kiln. A few of my ceramic students who made the trip all the way from Flagstaff spent a bit of their downtime helping create a unique kiln where it was constructed with bottles and clay. The firing took place during the final night and left behind a really great sculpture.
Such an amazing crew that filtered in and out through the three-day firing. We managed to snag a group shot around the kiln after the final stoke. It never seizes to amaze me that so many people can come together and fire such large kilns. The ceramics community is one of the best!