Firing up ceramics in community

By John Hamilton - [email protected]

Haines’ kiln.

Haines’ kiln.

Courtesy photo

CLARKSVILLE — Clinton-Massie Middle School’s art teacher has taken his passion for art to the next level by building his own wood kiln.

Nicolin Haines is hoping to finish his wood-burning kiln (or wood kiln) by next summer and hopes to “fire” it at least three times a year for fellow ceramic artists and friends to use.

Since starting this project in spring 2021, Haines has about 60 percent of the kiln complete. The project has been put on hold again for the school year.

Haines also wants to create opportunities in the community through classes and workshops.

“I’m hoping to bring opportunities to the community to learn about clay and take part in the firing processes, and instill a collaborative ceramic art community,” said Haines. “I want to fire my work, but I also want to share the excitement and energy with my ceramics friends and the community, regardless of ceramics experience.”

With over 14 years in ceramics, Haines found wood-firing provided a multitude of interesting results both with work that’s fired and the relationships that are formed.

“In wood firing, it is ideal to have a crew of at least six to ten people. This necessity provides a network in which ceramic artists can work together and learn from each other,” he said. “With other methods of firing such as electric or gas, these methods can suffice by an individual with a push of a button or a turn of a knob.”

So far the process has been what he thought it’d be.

“There were a few issues, but they turned out to be fine in the end. For the remainder of construction, I expect even more challenges to arise, of which I also feel will prove to be more difficult,” he said.

This is the first time he’s built a kiln from scratch and by himself. He’s learned how to weld and broadened his woodworking skills.

These will be put to the test once he restarts the construction in spring.

The kiln is made from high-density fire brick that can withstand temperatures up to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Next spring, he’ll finish the walls, weld the frame around the kiln, and add the arch form from the front of the kiln.

With his background, he has an understanding of how the physics of a kiln works and has helped build some in the past, but he’s never built one on his own.

He has had some help along the way. His brother, Aidan, helped with the construction along with Evan Cox who lent a hand in the welding.

To Haines, clay is a vehicle for community, providing networks of collaboration and growth.

“I feel once this endeavor is completed, this kiln will help facilitate more opportunities for this to happen within the community,” he said. “It’ll be a tough road ahead, but I’m excited to complete this project and share the wonders it can create.”

Haines’ kiln.’ kiln. Courtesy photo

By John Hamilton

[email protected]

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574

Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574