Playing With Fire

Padgett Gustavson and Riley Granger

As soon as October rolls around, select ceramics students gear up for the East Creek Anagama woodfire.

This event has become a tradition in the Lakeridge ceramics program. The kiln, which is based on an 8th century Korean design, was built in 1983 with the purpose of being used for education. Dug into the side of a hill, ceramic pieces are fired to extreme temperatures with wood at one entrance.

Mike Helle, the ceramics teacher, stressed the importance of the effort put in by students in order to be chosen.

“They are selected by me based on a combination of effort, reliability and responsibility in the classroom,” Helle said. He says it’s important to have a balance of underclassmen and upperclassmen, so that experienced students can help younger ones learn.

The kiln involves a lot of open flames, which can be a danger if students don’t take it seriously. Annika Haug, who attended the firing last year, experienced this danger.

“Hair burning off is a possibility. I burnt off my eyelashes from opening the kiln the wrong way,” she said.

“I’ve never felt something so hot in my life,” Paul Sanchez also said.

Despite the danger and commitment, students who have attended in the past still say they would go again. It takes place on three weekends starting Oct. 17.

Multiple schools, artists, and organizations come together to make this happen, including Wilson High School, George Fox and Linfield College.