Wednesday, August 16, ceramic artists from East Tennessee and surrounding states unloaded work from the maiden firing of Arrowmont’s new train kiln. The kiln was designed and built by Ted Neal, ceramics professor at Ball State University with the assistance of current and former graduate students.
The new wood-fired kiln was loaded and firing began Friday evening. Because the fire must be tended and the temperature monitored continuously, volunteers led by Ball State graduate student Sam Chumley worked around the clock for two days to ensure a successful firing. On Sunday evening, the fire was allowed to go out and the kiln was vented to allow cooling. After two days of cooling, the kiln was opened and the pottery removed.
Participating artists included Ted Neal and Sam Chumley; local potters Jane Buie, Lisa Canfield, Jim Coffelt, Amy Evans, David Howard, Patrick Houston, Kevin Leiva, Chuck McMahon, Winnie Utterback; Knoxville artists, Janet Harper, Sally Brogden, Brad Cantrell; Artists-in-Residence Elyse-Krista Mische, Paige Ward, Xia Zhang; former Artist-in-Residence Austin Riddle; Arrowmont staff members Bill Griffith and Rebecca Buglio.
“Because the kiln is new, it requires a longer cool-down period,” Ted Neal said. When opened, after two-plus days of cooling, the temperature inside the kiln was still above 200 degrees. The potters and Arrowmont staff and supporters participated in the unloading.
“This first firing served as an educational and outreach opportunity,” Bill Griffith, Arrowmont outreach liaison, who organized the firing said. “Results from the maiden train kiln firing provided staff and ceramic artists with information about how the kiln operates and glaze effect results. The firing engaged local potters and staff socially and professionally.”
There are three kilns in the new kiln complex located adjacent to the pottery studios. The new kilns are soda kiln, train (wood) kiln, and salt kiln. The soda kiln’s maiden firing was approximately two weeks ago. The salt kiln, designed and built by William Baker of Wood Song Pottery in Bakersville, North Carolina, will be fired at a future date. The new kilns replace the older kilns in the rear of the campus and create a kiln courtyard as a central feature of Arrowmont’s clay complex.
Artwork from this inaugural firing was presented to Bob and Karen Bentz, co-developers of Anakeesta Mountain who provided funding for this project, and to architect Tom Trotter whose firm, Trotter and Associates Architects, designed the kiln structure and the new dormitory currently under construction.
“With the help of the local community and our many supporters nationwide, Arrowmont is moving confidently into the future,” Bill May, executive director said. “We look forward to welcoming our friends, old and new, to Arrowmont to see our progress and improvements.”
About Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts
Founded as a settlement school in 1912 by the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, Arrowmont has grown into a national contemporary arts and crafts education center supporting learning opportunities for individuals of all skills levels and ages. Arrowmont is located on 13 acres in the heart of Gatlinburg, TN only minutes away from the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
With access to tourist attractions, the convenience of a large city nearby, and a thriving arts and crafts community, Arrowmont offers a unique and immersive learning environment—an unexpected oasis amidst the bustle of a popular tourist destination.
The heritage of the School is rooted in an approach to the arts that builds upon traditional arts and crafts—150 national workshops are offered annually, a full complement of community classes, children’s classes and ArtReach providing a day of art to over 1,200 children annually, and gallery exhibitions, symposia and conferences. People travel from across the nation and the globe to take classes at Arrowmont.