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Possible demise of the Fushigigama anagama kiln at Sharon, NH

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In a shocking and pretty dismal announcement today, I learned that New England College, which is devouring the NH Institute of Art in a merger, is closing the Sharon Art Center where "the kiln that John built" (Baymore) lives. I was so looking forward to the October fire that would have been his last (retiring) and my last chance to really reap the benefits of that type of fire, which I underutilized previously with my small pieces---this time I was going big & vertical.  Phooey.

John notes in an email: "I am afraid that Fushigigama will simply be no more very soon.  That being an anagama style kiln that is potentially able to fire smokeless and flameless at the chimney makes it a very unique beast in the US and the world.  NEC does not realize in the slightest what they have sitting there.  I've given lectures about its design at the International Academy of Ceramics General Assembly held in Ireland, in Yixing and Jingdezhen China, and at NCECA....(he also wrote) The news release today from NEC was a total blindside to me.  I had no inkling that was actually coming.  Changes with NEC taking over were always possible, and likely, but almost instantly closing the Sharon and Peterborough operations was not something I ever expected immediately. " 

In the formal announcement, NEC cites "resizing" and "rebranding". They are selling off NHIA real estate as well. The NHIA is now renamed, the Institute of Art and Design at New England College. Boom, done. @)#*#$^%@^#(*($)+:angry:

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  • 4 weeks later...

University of California at San Diego closed it's entire crafts center some time ago.  Besides clay, there was glass blowing, forging, fiber and watercolor classes.  I took many ceramics classes there and learned to fire there also.  My understanding was the liability lawyers got a look and the university decided it wasn't worth the risk.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Here is an update on the anagama kiln in Sharon, NH.   John Baymore is involved in an active  group collaboration to save the kiln. There is also a Facebook presence...if you are interested in the progress,  request to join the group: Saving Fushigigama.  John notes that it is important for there to be coordination/communication with other interested stakeholders, such as the still-existing ceramics program based in Manchester.


About This Group

With the decision of New England College to close and sell off NHIA's property at the Sharon Arts Center, the future of NHIA's Fushigigama anagama-style wood kiln is in dire question. It was built in the summer of 2014 by members of NHIA professor John Baymore's BFA kiln building class. Capable of firing both smokeless and flameless at the top of the chimney, this unique kiln has produced consistently good results in every firing, including the very first. This group is for those wishing to help support the continued existence and availability of this kiln to the ceramic community, either in the existing location in Sharon,or in some alternate venue.

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  • 3 weeks later...

An update on the Fushigigama anagama kiln and the situation with New England College and the Institute of Art and Design at NEC, from John Baymore, 8/27/19:  

"STATUS UPDATE: The group of mainly potters who worked at the Sharon Arts Center over the past few years (and now need a home and a teaching operation in which to learn) is having a meeting this Wednesday evening 8/28/19 in Dublin. This particular group is mainly exploring resurrecting / saving the whole Sharon Arts Center concept, not specifically only dealing with Fushigigama. A number of people in the group have been doing research on other ceramic / art cooperatives and non-profits to see how they are run. Others are researching the past costs to run the Sharon operation.

I sent a long detailed email to a key person at NEC a week ago, outlining what exactly they had there in now owning Fushigigama. I made the case for saving it in some manner or another as best as I could. Gave a list of potential options to save it. I got a very nice professional reply back. From that response, it is clear that they have not yet made any firm decisions about the fate of that kiln."

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  • 2 months later...

Update on the angama kiln (excerpted from a larger article in the Monadnock Ledger 11/17 in Arts-Living) 

"There is still no conclusion on what will happen to Fushigigama, the outdoor wood-fired anagama-style kiln on the Sharon Arts Center’s property. Kersey Asbury recommended that the group find the necessary funds to disassemble it and rebuild it at a new location, citing national and international interest in its fate. She estimated it could cost $100,000 to complete the relocation process. The kiln was designed and built by Wilton artist John Baymore and New Hampshire Art Institute graduate students in 2014."

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  • 9 months later...

From John Baymore on the current status of the wonderful, huge, smokeless,  anagama kiln he /his students built:  "It now looks like the kiln will be located elsewhere.

I have agreed to share the plans I designed and drew up and supervise the work of dismantling/ reconstruction of Fushigigama on the new site (Stay tuned for a potential socially-distanced, mask wearing "carefully take down and pack up a kiln" party. And then later for a large kiln building effort/workshop/class/etc.)

Fushigigama was an important part of the NH and New England woodfiring ceramics community, and I/we hope to be able to return that asset to everyone that might be interested in participating in firings. The kiln design has already shown that it produces very good results, and has a decent reduced woodfiring 'environmental footprint' at the same time."  The funding still has to be in place, of course, but apparently a decent location is on the horizon.

On a separate issue, an update on the  Art Center (there is no longer any connection to the kiln): "DUBLIN, NH — Local artists are one step closer to recouping the programming they lost when the Sharon Arts Center closed last year, thanks to recent financial support from the state for a new ceramics studio in Dublin.

MAxT Makerspace, a Peterborough nonprofit group that provides its members with a workshop to make textiles, jewelry, wooden crafts and other goods, received $62,500 in tax credits from New Hampshire’s Community Development Finance Authority in July. The organization will distribute the CDFA tax credits to raise funds for the new studio, according to its executive director, Roy Schlieben.

MAxT has identified an open suite at Dublin Village Park on Route 101 that it hopes to lease for the Sharing Arts Ceramics Center — a nod to the former arts studio in Sharon — and is now raising $100,000 to turn the space into a ceramics facility..." 

6-18 anagama best.jpg

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