Crafty pizza parties in ceramics building

If you’re not directly involved in the fine arts department, you may have never heard of the ceramics and sculpture building on campus, let alone what goes on there. But if you happen to walk by it on your way to the residential housing, the scents emanating from the building give away what’s going on in the building that day.

At any time during the week, you can smell aromas from the hint of freshly cut wood to the odor of something burning that comes with welding. On Fridays around noon though, you don’t have to be too close to the building to smell what’s going on with the sweet aroma of pizza in the air.

It’s important to mention this isn’t your typical flash frozen, gas oven cooked pizza.  It’s quite the opposite actually, for the pizza cooked in this building is made with fresh dough and cooked in a specially made brick oven.  If that isn’t impressive enough, the best news may be that for those who come, the pizza is free. Only one rule, make sure you bring your favorite pizza topping.

This has become a tradition for those who frequent the building for over four years now.  This weekly tradition dates back to when the brick oven was built, according to Ben Huber, project coordinator for the ceramics and sculpture department. During a class over that summer, various students and staff constructed the brick oven along with a wood kiln.

The original plan was to just make a wood kiln; but when the kiln was done they found there were still bricks left over. A former guest artist came up with the idea to make a pizza oven, according to Nick Bonner, visual arts department senior lecturer and foundations coordinator.

“I thought that was pretty cool,” said Bonner, explaining that it reminded him of his days of residency at the Archie Bray Foundations for the Ceramic Arts in Montana.

“We had an old wood-fired pizza oven and it’s such a cool thing and great way to make pizzas.  So when he said, you know let’s do that.  I thought man oh man, if we can get a pizza oven and a kiln, that will be very cool.”

According to Huber, the idea behind making the pizzas on Fridays was, and still is, centered on bringing in students currently involved in the department to come up on their day off to enjoy some pizza and to get some work done.

Huber admitted that at the time of its construction he thought it was “a terrible idea,” to make the brick oven.  He soon changed his mind though as, in his own words, the oven became a way to “help build the community and get students involved.”