Sunday, October 23, 2016

2016-09-10 - Saturday - PMI and twice-fired pots

Saturday I once again had the honor of demoing at the PMI (Potters Market Invitational, at the Mint Museum, Randolph Road). The PMI is 50 of the best potters NC has to offer in one large tent. I look forward to it every year.

The last two years I have been asked to demo throwing with the Carolina Clay Matters Pottery Guild (CCM) along with several other potters, and it is indeed an honor. People watch me throw my crazy pots and ask questions and we have a lot of laughs.

It's a great time and after lunch I head into the big tent to talk to the potters after the buying crowd has thinned out. I usually buy some small cups or bowls as my checking account allows and this year I splurged and bought three pieces. A beautiful cup by Will Baker, a sweet casserole by Donna Craven, and a whimsical lizard bowl by Matt Jones.

The plot thickens...

I came home to an empty house and since the bags had been on the floor of my van I put them on the stove instead of the counter, as is my habit. Little did I know that someone had left one of the small burners on medium heat and I didn't notice the red indicator light that would have told me the stove was on. Thinking everything was fine, I went out to get the mail.

When I came back into the kitchen I was greeted with 2 foot flames on the stove.

Time out here...

When you purchase work from a potter they often wrap the piece in newsprint-type paper to protect it and place it in a paper bag. All of this is remarkably flammable when a bit of heat is added.

... now back to our story.

When I saw the flames and lots and lots of smoke I instinctively reached to the cabinet under the sink for the fire extinguisher we haven't had for about twenty years. My second choice was the dish towel to smother the flames. We now have one less dish towel as it burned really well too. I ended up throwing it on the floor and stamping it out.

About this time the smoke was getting really thick so I turned on the range hood fan. Bad idea. It sucked the flames into the fan motor and melted it, popping the circuit breaker. I found out later that the flames were also high enough to melt the plastic housing of the LED bulbs in the hood.

Finally, I thought of the spray bottle with water we use to spritz food before microwaving it. Luckily it contained enough water to douse the flames.

At this point the smoke alarm was going off and the alarm company called to see if we needed the fire department. I told them thank you, but it was under control.

Now I needed to remove the smoke, so I went upstairs to turn on our whole house attic fan. It was dead. We hadn't used it in a couple of years and it's fifty years old so I figured it was done.

I ran to the garage and got one of our box fans mounting it in the kitchen window, blowing out. Now I thought at least the air conditioning would move some of the air, but when I looked at the digital thermostat it was dark. It must be on the same circuit as the range hood. Great.

While I was making this discovery I heard a loud crash behind me as the box fan fell out of the window onto the floor. I got masking tape and taped it into the window.

Trying to reset the circuit breaker didn't work so I figured the fan motor must be shorting it out. I removed the fan from the hood and the circuit let me reset it. Now the thermostat was lit up again and when I tried the attic fan it started right up. I was amazed that the range hood, the thermostat, the attic fan (at the other end of the house), and some outlets were all on the same circuit.

I untaped the box fan and put it back in the garage. I cleaned up the twice-fired pottery and took down the range hood, thinking it was time for a new one after fifty years.

By the way, Barkeeper's Friend cleanser gets burn marks out of Formica pretty well.

I thought the pots needed to be raku fired.

Unfortunate dish towel and the handles of the shopping bag.

The hood on it's side.

Tomorrow we get to go shopping for a range hood --and a fire extinguisher.


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