Ghost Ranch Volunteer Camp 2019
By Barbara Campbell and Judy Nelson-Moore
Since 2008, NMPCA has held a formal volunteer camp at Ghost Ranch nearly annually to maintain the ceramic art facilities, continuing the more informal work that had done for years prior. This is a responsibility and a privilege that NMPCA has undertaken to achieve the joint goal to promote the ceramic art studio as a resource for workshops. This year, 2019, we have a formal letter of agreement with the Ranch that describes the relationship Ghost Ranch and NMPCA have had over the last 40 years. This renewable agreement makes communication and coordination easier for both parties.
What a great work crew we had this year for the volunteer camp. It was smaller than some previous years, and a few people could only come later or on Saturday, so initially it seemed really small at 1:00 Friday afternoon. The good thing about this was that we got fairly organized and into our respective jobs, collected materials and totally prepared for working hard on Saturday.
We want to give special mention by name to all of the generous and hard-working participants: Barbara Campbell, Judy Nelson-Moore, Luisa Baldinger, Cirrelda Snyder-Bryan, JB Bryan, Daisy Kates, Michael Thornton, Joe Bova, Penne and Jack Roberts, David Canfield and his sister Diane Bywaters.
One major activity was to add a second coat of plastering to the fume kiln. The first coat had a dead white color, so Judy and Luisa had the idea of putting iron oxide into the plaster mix for the fume kiln and it looks beautiful. Between the metal kiln, the raku kiln with its silver tarp, and the gray gravel of the yard, having a red iron kiln really livened up the visuals in the yard.
In between other tasks, the group gathered together to discuss the issue of “What do we call the “post Pot Hollow” ceramic art studio. Cirrelda led us in a brainstorming session. We discussed criteria for the name. Among these were something that rolls off the tongue easily, something short and easily identifiable to what it is, and something including “Pinon” since that is what is on all the maps at the ranch. Then, we threw out many ideas for names. A vote was held and was unanimous (except for one to keep us honest) to select “Pinon Pottery” as the new name of the ceramic art studio.
Joe, with Jack’s help, got the last two bays walled in with the lath and shelves and the portal now looks really finished. We were able to borrow an air compressor from the ranch and with it and the other parts donated by Katy Sheridan (Joe had to do some jury rigging with the parts to make them work), but Joe was able to get the new construction painted and finished.
Daisy and Michael installed new elements in the Olympic kiln (Daisy, bless her heart, spent a great deal of the weekend bent over and partially upside down). The Olympic kiln is now running on all cylinders and will certainly even get up above bisque temperatures.
While I was off getting materials, the Bailey kiln in which the melt down disaster took place was evaluated and judged possible to be fixed. Michael is going to work on it again this summer while he is at the ranch taking over my classes for me and we will get the final verdict later in the summer.
The Ranch is going to put in new transformers and double or triple the electric output we will be able to tap into at the Piñon Pottery site and then get all our kilns with their own plugs and perhaps the potential to run them simultaneously.
There is still talk with the ranch about replacing the wood fire kiln and we discussed a potential site for it that would not put any structures or foliage at risk. The spot is in front of Piñon near the horno where we could have our stack of wood delivered without having big trucks trying to get out back to the kiln yard. We are still discussing this, so if anyone has suggestions, they would be welcome.
Cirrelda did a marvelous job on the yard and grooming the plants (she doesn’t like to call them weeds) and the whole area looks so clean and cared for now. JB did a terrific job organizing the studio closest which had become a disaster of disorganization. Penne and Cirrelda and JB also floated between job sites and made themselves indispensable filling in and helping out.
We were blessed to have the participation of a new Member, David Canfield who brought his sister along. David was going to drop out due to a very bad accident he had a few months back, but I told him that there were going to be two or three others of us who were recovering from bad accidents and surgeries and we would find him something more intellectual to do. His sister, Diane, came out to help him with his recovery and be his driver for the time being and between the two of them we now have a User’s Manual for the new Piñon Pottery site. It was a huge job and we owe Diane a large debt of gratitude and a huge thank you to David for bringing her. I think we all breathed a sigh of relief as there really was no time for Judy, who was out there plastering with Luisa for the duration to work on it nor did I have time to do much but offer a couple of pointers about what needed to be included. The proof reading will be done soon and then it can be edited and added to as needed and then sent out to the board for approval. Once all that is done, we will most likely post it on our web site and keep copies in the studio and on file with the maintenance department at the ranch. Yeah, Diane and David!!!
The Ranch was very supportive of all our work and lent us tools and a golf cart and found forgotten items and building materials for us.
The weekend was a really productive and a very positive experience.
I think we all had a really good time with old friends and new acquaintances that became good friends by the end of the weekend.
A big warm thank you to all who participated.