The Amazing Space Shuttle Story

On today’s anniversary of the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion, I have a unique and special story to share.

By the time I was in 8th grade, my mother and grandmother had me interested in ceramics. So, when we had a unit on ceramics in my art class at school, I was ready!

I chose to hand-form and create a complete space shuttle from raw clay. This was in the spring semester of 1986, right after the Space Shuttle Challenger accident. The incredible irony is, within a few weeks or months of the accident, as my clay space shuttle was firing in my grandmother’s kiln, it exploded from an air bubble trapped between one of the boosters and the fuel tank. As you can tell from the photo it was a fairly forceful explosion with hundreds of pieces.

Kevin-Paul-Thompson-shuttle-kiln-1986Spring

Picture of the exploded space shuttle in the kiln

I even attempted to reconstruct the shuttle after the accident…

Kevin-Paul-Thompson-shuttle-pieces-1986Spring

Attempt to reconstruct part of the exploded space shuttle

As I recall, the original shuttle itself was salvaged and repaired (you can see the chipped wing in the first photo), and the original boosters could have been used, but to fire the boosters and fuel tank as a unit, I recall having to recreate the boosters as well. Luckily, the second firing did not have any issues and the project was finally finished. (I had a very understanding art teacher.) The piece is a full 12″ tall.

Space Shuttle

Space Shuttle
by Kevin Thompson (1986)
(click image to enlarge)

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Wanda’s Wedding Anniversary

Wanda made this cross stitch piece of her wedding anniversary, undated.

George-Wanda-wedding

Wanda’s Wedding Anniversary
by Wanda Baldwin (undated)
(click image to enlarge)

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Christmas Nativity

For Christmas Day, there is really no better piece of work by Wanda’s family than this a 13-piece ceramic Christmas nativity set. ┬áThe tallest pieces (Joseph, a wise man, and two camels) are about 9″ tall. The set includes Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, three wise men, three shepherds, 3 camels, and a cow. Two copies of this set exist, both made by Margaret, both undated. Each thumbnail below can be clicked to see the full-size image.

Nativity
Nativity-Mary-and-Jesus Nativity-Joseph Nativity-Shepherd-1
Nativity-Shepherd-2 Nativity-Shepherd-3 Nativity-Wise-Man-1
Nativity-Wise-Man-2 Nativity-Wise-Man-3 Nativity-Sitting-Camel
Nativity-Standing-Camel-1 Nativity-Standing-Camel-2 Nativity-Cow
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The Carolers

A scene of Christmas carolers with two girls, a dog, a snow-covered Christmas tree, a lamp post, and the front of a house as the backdrop, by Margaret, 1976. There are two specimens of this extant.

Christmas-carolers-1976

The Carolers
by Margaret Thompson (1976)
(click image to enlarge)

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Large Ceramic Christmas Tree

A ceramic Christmas tree with plastic “lights” that fit into holes throughout the tree. A standard light bulb illuminates the lights from the interior. By Margaret, undated, approx 18″ tall or so. There are two specimens of this extant.

Large-ceramic-tree

Large Ceramic Christmas Tree
by Margaret Thompson (undated)
(click image to enlarge)

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Small Elves

A set of 7 small ceramic elves, by Margaret, undated, each around 4-5″ tall.

Small-Elves

Small Elves
by Margaret Thompson (undated)
(click image to enlarge)

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Kevin’s Stocking

A cross stitch Christmas stocking made by my Grandmother for me, probably late 1970′s.

Kevins-Stocking

Kevin’s Stocking
by Wanda Baldwin (undated)
(click image to enlarge)

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