The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Students help show off kiln invention

One professor and seven ceramic majors had the attention of art professors from all around the country from Oct. 25-28 in Denton, Texas.

The professor and students traveled to the University of North Texas to demonstrate how to set-up and operate associative professor of art and head of ceramics, Mike Weber’s new invention, the Anagama kiln. Weber was the main presenter at this wood firing conference, “Wood Fire Extravaganza-Hotter than a Texas Summer.”

Seniors John Lewis, Kristy Foss, Shannon Sullivan, David Zdrazil, Gerri Alger and juniors Melissa Grissman, and Dawn Carey went to assist Weber as co-presenters.

“They’re very knowledgeable with this tool,” Weber said.

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“I was inspired to build a small kiln like this because most kilns are too large and copy Japanese kilns – it’s kind of like a Volkswagen because it’s really easy to build and you can control it,” Weber said.

Another inspiration was working with one of the best living wood firing artists, Shiro Psujimura, when he was in Nara, Japan, he said.

Weber nicknamed his kiln “Rocket Man.”

“It’s just like a little rocket. It’s a fierce kiln,” he said. It roars, it fires really hot and fast and is powerful.”

The art department provided some of the money for the students and Weber to travel, but the University Office of Research and Grants was the main donator.

“Travel is healthy and refreshing for everybody,” Weber said. “Students are inspired a lot and are refreshed.”

Gene Hood, art department chair, gave credit to the university for supporting the traveling.

“The university really supported its students. They gave a very handsome grant,” Hood said. “The students did a terrific job.”

Professors at the conference complimented Weber on the excellence of his graduate students. But after hearing they were all undergraduates, they couldn’t believe it, Hood said.

“It was a blast,” Sullivan said. “Everyone worked really well together and the Texans were impressed by how we built the kiln.”

About 150 studio artists and educators attended the conference. Other ceramic demonstrators, like clay artist, Mitsuo Kakutani, showed his work by using the Korean wheel.

Besides Texas and Wisconsin, Rocket Man has blasted off to Montana.

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Students help show off kiln invention