April 28, 2014 § 13 Comments

This has been a 45th birthday I won’t forget in a hurry!


During Friday night I had a fire in the workshop. There was a knock at the door at 9am Saturday morning and I was told that there was a fire and the fire brigade needed to talk with me urgently. It was a devastating scene arriving at the workshop. The room was blackened, everything covered in soot, and half a dozen firemen were going in and out. I couldn’t believe it!

We had friends and family round on Sunday and I couldn’t face spending much time at the workshop. All I knew was that on Monday morning I needed to assess the damage and put together a plan. How was my wheel? How was my kiln? What sort of state was my stock in? I did fear the worst.

Monday morning, a much maligned morning, brought good news. I am 90% sure that my kiln and wheel have suffered only surface damage. The stock, which I was sure I’d lost, actually cleans up fairly easily. It looks/looked worse than it is. There is a great deal of cleaning to do and some repairing but I am hoping, with a fair wind, to be throwing again by the end of next week (the workshop is currently being gutted and rebuilt). In a small space, over time, with the heat from the kiln firings, bits and pieces of workshop stuff that were around the kiln apparently had dried out to the point where combustion was relatively easy-no flame required.

I am very lucky: no one was hurt; no one else’s workshop was damaged; and I have discovered, something I knew already, that I live in a wonderful community. People have been increadibly supportive and I am eternally grateful. Joseph, from Red Fox Pottery, left a comment after my last post saying that he found it amazing to think how little time I had spent being involved in pottery. Sometimes I feel it…

§ 13 Responses to 28.04.14

  • God David, how petrifying. As you say it’s times like these that a community really reveals itself. I’ll never forget when my aunt’s house burnt down how amazing her neighbours were. I’m relieved that nothing was too badly damaged. It has made me worry about my kiln being in my new wooden studio. Did the fire brigade give you any advice for the future?

  • charlie says:

    phew and also to reinforce Joseph’s comments, your work and your blog reflect a person with a much longer or perhaps deeper interest in creating with clay than the few years that you’ve been throwing

  • Thank goodness things weren’t as bad as they could have been and no one was hurt. Like Juliet, I too am just about to move my kiln into a wooden studio, I’ll definitely try and get some advice before doing so.
    I hope you get back on your feet again soon David and maybe have a Birthday rerun.

  • catherine woodall says:

    Oh David, that was a close shave! I’m so glad you are alright and that hopefully you’ll be back on your feet in no time. My partner had a fire in his laser cutter a year or so ago, so I understand the soot cleaning and refurb ahead of you. Good luck and if there is anything I can do, just let me know…

    • Thanks, Catherine, I really appreciate it. There has been a lot of disruption, including delays on orders etc., and some damage but, thinking on the positive side, it really could have been so much worse.

  • boltceramics says:

    Gosh what a scare! Hope you’re ok. It’s a sobering warning for all of us with a kiln. Good luck with getting back to it.

  • David, I’m wondering what you learned about workshop safety from your fire and if you have any new tips/advice to share? I don’t want a fire!
    Also I wanted to let you know that I have a bowl of yours that I bought at Bovey Tracy last year and I enjoy using it so much.

    • Hi Rebecca. Just be sensible is what I really learned… My workshop is small (130 square feet) and I was keeping far too much in it, as I didn’t have anywhere else to store anything (I have since found somewhere) – packaging, fair stands, glaze materials… Rationalising everything has made the workshop a much more ergonomic place to work, and more pleasurable one, with much less clutter. This is a good thing, good for the mind as well.

      I am so pleased that you like the bowl. Maybe see you at Bovey again in a few weeks…

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