Friday, February 12, 2010

The Community Temple Compound: Fall ‘08 Update

It was a year ago last September that my Asheville potter son, Josh Copus, wood-fired the first pots in his newly constructed Community Temple kiln. It’s been that long since I visited the kiln site on the two acre Marshall County property where Josh lives.

The year-old 3-tiered kiln was still hot from its 7th firing when my husband, Joe and I arrived with our truck camper for a weekend visit. It would be two days before the kiln’s full cool down, followed by the unloading of wares. Josh was a little blurry eyed from tending the fire overnight as he showed us around.

The structural changes around the site since last year are many. Most notable is the newly built pottery studio that Joe helped Josh frame in early June. Constructed from salvaged wood, doors and windows, this studio will eventually be the pottery showroom when a larger studio is built. A village green and a house are also a part of future plans.

I’m always amazed by Josh’s self-taught accomplishments and his keen appreciation for and ability to manifest recycled building materials. This time it was his masonry handwork that impressed me most, a stone wall around the studio building, stairway steps built into the hard packed clay dirt around the kiln, and a stone ledge and sitting bench.

He referred to his masonry work as “hardscaping” and explained how many of the bricks and cobblestones used in both projects came from the streets of Asheville, which he collected when city workers dug up a road to build a new sewer line. Old brick stamped with logo words from Josh’s private collection also figured into the work.

There were several newly constructed wooden ware racks around the kiln, staging stations for loading and unloading pots. The blue striped couch from when Josh lived in the warehouse loft apartment at Clayspace, the Asheville studio cooperative that Josh founded, was prominently placed in front of the kiln, offering rest for potters during the intensive tending of woodfirings that can go on all night.

Josh’s living space has also undergone changes. A roofed porch now extends from his Airstream trailer headquarters along the creek that rushes through the property. Bamboo blinds on one side and a small paned window frame on another close in a sitting and sleeping space. A beige couch faces the roofed cooking area, which includes a long wooden counter and a large grille with and propane burner. Josh plans to further close in the porch for the winter, which will transform it into a small cabin, not unlike the one on Zephyr Farm that we lived in one summer when Josh was a boy.

The portajohn, a fixture during last year’s kiln building and first firing, has been replaced by a composting toilet outhouse, situated behind the Airstream. “The outhouse was practice for building the new studio,” Josh said. His cat “Jean Claude Meow” charged down from a hill, where a bathtub was waiting to be a wood-fired hot tub, and into the raised bed vegetable garden. “He’s doing his job,” Josh said, which meant that Jean Claude has been keeping the mice population down.

Post notes: See a video clip of Josh showing Joe the newly built kiln ware racks HERE. This entry was originally posted on Loose Leaf Notes on September 29, 2008.

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