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video of the oldest climbing kiln in america in grass valley, ca

updated tue 18 nov 03


Chic Lotz + Keith Montgomery on mon 17 nov 03

Wanted to let our Clayart community know about the premiere
of a new video, "The Climbing Kiln of Woolman Lane,
Sunday, November 30, 2:30 and 5:30 at Center for the Arts,
in Grass Valley, CA

The biggest and oldest 6 chamber noborigma climbing kiln in
North America was built and fired in one month by 50 potters
in 1971 from hand dug, hand formed clay bricks. The kiln was
designed by Richard Hotchkiss with ample input from Rimas
VisGirda, Ted Menmuir, Doug Tweed, and Joel Goodkind. It has
been fired 113 times in the last thirty two years. It was built
during the Earth, Air, Fire, Water Woodfire workshop in August
of 1971. It is 60 feet long and has six walk in chambers and a
250 cubic foot fire mouth. The chambers are each over 200 cubic
feet, the total displacement around 1450 to 1500 cubic feet.
It has been fired 2-3 times a years for the past 31 years by potters
near and far. Each firing includes 20-50 potters. These firings have
contributed greatly to building the pottery community in California
as well as all over the country.

There have been four films made that are centered on this kiln
and it's construction. The first, done in 1971 during the EAFW
workshop is a 50 minute, silent, 8 mm film, shot and edited by
Margaret Getz. There are no known copies of this film in existence.
The second film shot in 1999-2002 has recently been featured on
Fcat, the local Grass Valley TV station, is by Harumi Sweet at C&H
multimedia (

The third is "A Woodfire Experience" by Richard Hotchkiss.
This film is partially composed of slides taken when the kiln was
constructed and partially from VHS and digital footage taken by
six different filmmakers from 1996 to 2003. This film takes a
historical look at the original digging of the clay, forming the bricks,
building the kiln, and firing it. It was shown to an overflowing audience
at the 2003 NCECA convention. With such rave reviews, it has been
requested again for the 2004 NCECA film section.

A fourth film, "The Climbing Kiln of Woolman Lane," was recently
made highlighting the entire process of woodfiring, from glazes made
with hand mined materials & ashes, to watching the cones drop and
the excitement of unloading over 1000 pots. The documentary was
shot over a 3-day wood firing 2002. It explores the magic of firing
ceramics in the ancient tradition of Japanese potters. At its heart,
this film shows the interpersonal connections and building of community
that inevitably occurs during the woodfire process as many hands
work together. The movie was filmed, edited and produced by Patty
Eacobacci of Purple Cat Productions.

"The Climbing Kiln of Woolman Lane," is premiering Sunday, Nov. 30th
at the Center for the Arts at 314 West Main St., in Grass Valley. The
movie will show at 2:30 and 5:30. Then step into the next room to see
for yourself the beautiful work produced by Nevada County ceramic artists.
Pottery will be for sale. Artists will be on hand to answer questions.
A portion of all proceeds will be used for kiln materials and maintenance
of this historical kiln. Bring family and friends for an afternoon of
learning and discovery.

For more info, a sneak preview and ticket sales, check out

With regard to the movie, the making, the editing, etc.
you can contact Patty at

If you are from out of town and would like to come to this event and
need a place to stay overnight, contact Chic Lotz at

Snail Scott on mon 17 nov 03

At 01:35 AM 11/17/03 -0800, you wrote:
>"The Climbing Kiln of Woolman Lane," is premiering Sunday, Nov. 30th
>at the Center for the Arts at 314 West Main St., in Grass Valley.

Anyone who is in Grass Valley (CA, USA) can stop
by the Sierra College campus (at the pond) and see
the annual Gillian Hodge Memorial Outdoor Sculpture
Exhibition, which has been extended to run through
the spring. My piece is bronze, not clay, but there
are a few clay pieces made by other folks, if you
need that excuse. ;)