Maybe “Clever” is too strong a word

We had an “incident” at the house the other day. As with many other such occurences, I can look back and see that there were ample warning signs; warning signs that anyone who had not ironically dubbed themselves “clever” would be sure to notice. Me however? Hell no! You may have to start calling me The Hubris-filled Chick. It was bad. Here’s the epic story:

I have recently acquired a tiny ceramics kiln, much to my delight. I’ve been wanting one for years, and I was excited to finally start firing. The one problem is the kiln has to have 6 feet clear all the way around it when firing, but the cord is nowhere near that long. We used the extension cord pictured above to make it reach. The test firing went off without a hitch. I loaded all the stuff I’d made into the kiln, and got it ready for my first real firing!

Looking back, the warning signs were obvious. This extension cord is supposed to be 3 pronged, but the third one, the ground, was missing. We’d used this same cord before to run the lawn mower, and it worked fine, so I kind of ignored that. Apparently, that is pretty important. You can also see electrical tape on the left hand side of the photo up there. That’s where the cats chewed it, and we electrical taped it back together. The third problem was that the orange plastic around the base of the plug had worn away, so that you could see about an 1/8th an inch of the interior wires. In my mind these were all separate incidences, but they should have added up to a major warning. Alas, I just went ahead.

Hubby started the process for me while I was at work and he was off for the day. He followed the correct procedures, and checked on it, then went and ran an errand at my request. When he came home, the whole house smelled of burning plastic. He found the cord, melted and turning to charcoal. He quickly unplugged it so the kiln would shut off. That was probably not the safest choice, but that’s what he did.  He had to open all the windows and the garage to air the house out, and we left them open overnight.

The plastic is fused to the chair. I know we had a super close call, and I’m sure in an alternate universe, our house caught fire. I am so thankful that my husband and all our pets are fine, if slightly retarded from the plastic fumes. We now own a heavy duty extension cord that is used only for the kiln. Anytime we fire, one of us checks on it every hour or two. The stuff that was inside the kiln during the melt down was not affected, and the kiln seems to be working great also. So there’s the whole gory story. I’m glad my misfortune amuses you all so much!


March 19, 2011. Tags: , , , , , , , . Arts and Crafts, House Stuff, Random typing.


  1. Mom replied:

    In a related story, we were out at the ranchita last night and we had no water, because winter freezes had caused broken pipes around the ranch. We grilled steaks, enjoyed the full moon, and went to bed. About midnight I woke up because it seemed like someone was shining a flashlight in my eyes. Even without my contacts in, I realized it was a small fire! I woke up the Intrepid Traveler and told him the deck was on fire.

    So, deck on fire in the middle of dry ranch land, no running water, no fire extinguishers, no one around for a mile, cell phone signals that are notoriously unreliable anyway. Fortunately, I keep about 20 jugs of water around for those common occasions when the water system is down, and equally fortunately, I woke up when the fire was small enough that we just needed about 5 gallons to put it out.

    Beans, beware!

    • thatcleverchick replied:

      We must all be cursed!!!

      • Mom replied:

        What was the common factor in both of these fires? The Intrepid Traveler!

      • thatcleverchick replied:

        Didn’t he set his hands on fire that one time? And then Xuan Karlos set his blanket on fire? Maybe we should go live in one of those mennonite communities, and lower our risk. :/

  2. Black replied:

    OH DAMN! That’s crazy!! I’m glad you guys are ok. I can empathize, I burned down my dorm room when I was stationed in Korea…twice. Will have to tell you and Hubby over a beer sometime.

    • thatcleverchick replied:

      Oh, I have to hear this story! I’m glad we’re not the only safety-idiots around!

  3. Beans replied:

    Good thing Hubby’s errand didn’t last longer! Never leave the house when that thing is running!

    • thatcleverchick replied:

      I know!! I’m super paranoid about it now. I check on it every half hour or so, and only run it while we’re home.

  4. More Fun with Blocks « My Attempts at Cleverness replied:

    […] on it at Home Depot. I am so amazing, I hardly know what to do with myself sometimes! Then I almost set my house on fire, and my swelled head goes back to normal […]

  5. Hummus, finally « My Attempts at Cleverness replied:

    […] my ignorance. I’m not perfect, but everyday I get a little closer. but then I do things like almost set my house on fire, and I stumble back a few […]

  6. Matt replied:

    The big problem is that you left the cord coiled. High draw currents in a tight coil creates high resistance and heat. I think it has something to do with electromagnetic force

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