UM president lights anagama kiln

University of Montevallo President Dr. John W. Stewart praises the tradition of lighting the anagama kiln Nov. 7. (Reporter photo/Christine Boatwright)

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

MONTEVALLO – University of Montevallo President Dr. John W. Stewart became the second president to light the anagama kiln on UM’s campus Nov. 7.

Dr. Scott Meyer and his ceramic students will keep vigilant watch over the traditional Japanese kiln, which will heat to at least 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit, over the next 100 hours. The 40-foot kiln will fire ceramics from students, visiting artists and Pell City High School students, who were in attendance to watch Stewart light the kiln.

Meyer toasted the lighting of the kiln with sake.

“May we make some mistakes so we may learn from then,” he said, toasting. “To success!”

Dr. John Stewart and Dr. Scott Meyer light the anagama kiln Nov. 7. (Reporter photo/Christine Boatwright)

The kiln will reach its highest temperature Nov. 9, and students will wear face shields and fire suits to continue adding wood to the kiln.

“We can get it too hot,” Meyer said. “When you look in the last night, it’s like looking into the sun. It’s white-hot.”

The minerals from the pinewood will stick to the ceramics, which Meyer compared to snow sticking to a car.

The kiln will take more than a week to cool down enough to remove the fired ceramics, so the finished products will be removed Nov. 18.

“The spirit of this place captures everyone who comes here,” Meyer said.

Stewart said the tradition of the anagama kiln will go down in the history books as one of the most important, finest and most fun traditions of the university.

Stewart also announced a $100,000 gift from two UM alumni to renovate the university’s 3D art studio.

Dr. Scott Stephens, chair of the UM art department, said the renovations will begin in summer 2013. The renovation will include updated restrooms, an exhibition space, classrooms and meeting space, as well as a new metal shop that will be “deluxe,” Stephens said.