Saturday, August 14, 2010

Grandmas and Fans

Automatic kilns are wonderful, extreme summer heat is not so wonderful for firing. The Skutt kiln manual recommends aiming a box fan directly at the controller when firing the kiln, so that's what I do. We got this box fan at Sam's club, it has three speeds and it's been blowing at top speed since this morning.

I also have an oscillating fan placed on top of the washing machine beside the back door to the garage; we got this fan with the house. It moves a bit of air, but really is best in one room or to sit directly in front of.

The oscillating fan reminds me of my grandma. Grandma Ruth would put one of these fans on an outdoor table in summer evenings to stir the air while we ate some of her slow cooked beef brisket in the hot and humid summer heat of Southern Arkansas. When I first saw a fan on an outside table at my grandmas I thought she was crazy trying to cool the outside air. Now I appreciate the wisdom of my grandma's ways.

Grandma never had recipes. I just remember her beef brisket took all day to cook, was wrapped in foil, and had a thick tomato based sauce over the top of it. At one time Grandma had a restaurant in Corpus Christi so I think this recipe might have had a Texas influence.

The best fan of all is this vintage turquoise Emerson Electric fan we brought with us from Arkansas. This fan was in one of the windows of the home we had in Arkansas which didn't have air conditioning. The fan helped make it livable in summer. The fan was designed to be placed in a window. On the sides are sliding metal pieces to fit the window of your choice.

Amazingly this fan is reversible; it either blows air in or the blades turn in the reverse to remove air from inside to the outside. The fan also has a temperature setting. We now have the fan strapped to a ladder in our garage to help move the hot air produced by the kiln out of the garage. This fan was probably made in the late 1950s or early 1960s and still works great. I will never part with this fan. The Emerson fan is an example of one of the wonderful products produced in America with practicality, durability, and longevity in mind. My Skutt kiln is also another example of a well made American product. See the smaller kiln, that one was made in the late 1970s and it still works very well.

Kiln at 1900 degrees, inside garage temperature at 93 degrees and 75 percent humidity. Outside temperature is 92 degrees with heat index of 106. Thank goodness for grandmas and fans, and well-made American products.


  1. we have an old fan that worked for years- we kept rebuilding it over and over-last left us.
    New pots soon! YEA!

  2. If you move the air, life is good. I spent one whole summer in Florida with only a fan blowing directly on me to make sleeping bearable. Always had to sleep with light covers as a result. Pretty fond of A/C these days.
    That kiln really puts out some heat.
    Seems like you are doing fine though with only one degree difference.

  3. I grew up in the south -- GA & SC mostly with some time in FL -- we never had air conditioning. My parents had a window unit in their bedroom. We slept with fans moving that hot air.

    I think central air conditioning totally changed Florida & it's inhabitants -- into the tourist mecca it is today. It was a very different state when I was a kid.

    Can't wait to see those pots you're firing!

  4. I love your vintage turquoise fan. Your Grandma's brisket sounds de-lish!

  5. The wisdom of grandmas and mothers too. My mom has been gone 10 years now and I am still learning here and there about/from her. I caught myself the other day of why she did certain things... and it amazed me that I had it wrong for a long time... I broke into tears finally as I figured out her message.

    The quality of well-made american products I have admired since being a kid living in a border town, everything was better in the US. We were lucky to have a crossing card that allowed us to go up to 75 miles from the border freely without any other type of permit from US Customs, we'd come shopping often, visit relatives and visit San Diego a lot, ahh the memories. I worked for Emerson in the late 80's after immigrating and settling in California. Emerson was one of the few companies then that checked every applicant's immigration status. Plain and simple, if you were not legal you couldn't work there.

    And finally food.... My grandma was a good cook and didn't have recipes either, everything was made from scratch. I remember when she owned her little restaurant in Tijuana, it was a family affair and all grandchildren would help at one time or another. Nowadays when I cook the food takes me back to those days of Abuelita Lupe. Big woman who lived to be 90 and worked all her life until she was 88.

    That turquoise fan is a gem to look at. I have an Emerson fan in my studio, I bought it manyl years ago, and it's still good as new.

  6. I have a big squirrel cage blower out of and old furnace.That thing moves some air.

  7. Hi Meredith, thanks, I might have to take a gander at some thrift stores for some of the old ones, they have bigger blades that are metal and seem to work better. Bisque tonight.

    Hi Patti, thanks, yes ac in the house is a must, although if I had to I guess I could do it with just the fan, we did in Arkansas till we moved into the other house.

    Hi Judy, thanks, are you a Florida cracker? I knew you lived here, were you born here?

    Hi Teresa, thanks, I don't eat beef any longer, but I remember it was really good, just melted in your mouth.

  8. Hi Yolanda, thanks, if only we knew then what we know now, such is life I guess, but at least we have the memories. I bet San Diego was great years ago when you visited. I lived there when I was in the fourth grade and I know we loved it. I'll bet you have some good recipes from your grandmother. Mine taught me not to be afraid to experiment with ingredients, not consciously, but unconsciously I learned to do that from her especially since my mom hated to cook. I didn't even know the brand of this fan till I did the post, I am going to be searching for some more Emerson fans, so cool you used to work there so long ago.

    Hi Dennis, thanks, that is a really good idea using that squirrel cage for a fan, I am going to look for a couple of more I can now see when firing such a big kiln one can't have too many fans. My last kiln was located on an East facing screen room and it had plenty of air circulation the garage being block seems to just absorb the heat.


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