ACL Project List
 
Western Clay (summer 2015) 
Through a partnership with Montana Preservation Alliance and the Archie Bray Foundation, interns will engage in the recording and conservation of historic brick kilns. Skills learned/applied: documentation and recording, traditional brick masonry techniques, specialized conservation techniques

For summer 2015, two interns will return to the former site of the Western Clay Manufacturing Company outside Helena, Montana, an industrial landscape as important for its historical value as it is for its successful adaptive reuse as a modern ceramic arts center.   This complex site possesses a broad range of technical and interpretive problems related to the plant’s original construction and deterioration and current (non) use. Western Clay Manufacturing Co. was one of the largest brick and tile plants in Montana during the late 19th to mid-­‐20th century.  Partially converted to the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts in the 1950s, the former brick and tile plant has been closed for many years and still retains its buildings and much of its machinery, molds and tools.  Plans are currently underway to stabilize, interpret, and reuse these structures for the Bray’s world famous ceramic arts studio and other proposed functions such as a museum of industrial clay products.

The planned project for this year includes the continued conservation of the site’s iconic brick downdraft or “beehive” kilns, and surrounding shed complex. Interns will have the opportunity to apply knowledge and techniques through hands-­‐on training with MPA staff.  The work will include architectural recording, masonry stabilization, repointing, installation of steel brackets and cabling system for seismic stabilization of kilns, as well as many other tasks.  This internship is meant to reinforce topics already learned in the first year of study by recording the architecture and its conditions, diagnosing material and structural problems, designing and executing conservation treatments.
WECL Interns
Students working to repoint the masonry work on the exterior of Kiln 7. 
 
WECL interns-2
Effort to water-proof the upper rim of the kiln roof.
   

Panorama of the Western Clay Manufacturing site with downdraft kilns in the foreground. Photo: J. Elliott (2011)