Friday, May 25, 2012

Kiln... you kill me (-__-)

 While I like, love, and adore most things that come along with my job, there is one thing I strongly dislike, loathe, and even HATE most every time: Using the classroom kiln.

OH MY LAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Now, I understand that this is a COMPLETELY first-world classroom problem because many people have neither clay nor a kiln but indulge me for just a minute since I feel like I rarely make such a request.)

When I first came to this job I was super excited about all of what I was going to get to do. The facilities are pretty much top notch, the students are amazingly talents, and I pretty much could say I had no qualms about anything. Then, they showed me the classroom kiln and I *pretty much*  turned the other way and pretended like it was never shown to me in the first place.

To me, the kiln is this: The place where enthusiasm and what would otherwise be great student artwork comes to die.

Is that melodramatic? Well, that's really the way that it works most of the time and I mean that very literally. Now, I understand that my issues with/against the kiln could be completely as a result of "pilot error" (on my part) but that's not my point here because (in my defense) I have read, researched, and tried the kiln enough times to feel completely legitimized about my raging hatred against it. That being said? I cannot dislike the kiln more at this moment because this is what some beautifully sculpted student work looks like today...


To be completely fair, some of the pieces did make it through the firing process and are currently being painted by the students they belong to but I'd say this represents probably less than 10% of the total amount of student work. *GRRRRRRrrrrrrrrr...*

Oh well... *pfffffffffffffffffffffttttttt*

Just had to get this off my chest.

At least there is model magic - THAT I do love!


  1. Hi, I think we've all had "those days" with our kiln. Yes, your students are very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with clay, so please don't give up! From the photos that you've shown, it appears that some of those that exploded are very thick. Next time, try hollowing out the piece before assembling, and always leave a small hole or opening for the heat to escape. Also, with these thick pieces, it may take two weeks to dry completely before they can be fired. If they're not dry and still damp inside, the moisture will "heat up" when fired and cause them to crack or explode. You can usually tell if they're dry by the weight or if they feel cool to the touch.
    Please don't give up on the clay. This is such a wonderful part of any curriculum and I'm sure if you and your students will have a successful project the next time you fire! Have a peaceful summer. Cynthia S.

  2. Hi Cynthia! You are indeed right about that. The sculptures all seemed pretty small and I let them dry for a week and I thought I could get away with it but that's what I get for pressing my luck. Oh well... Now I know to not try and outsmart the kiln but I can't say I won't be returning to my ol' favorite air-dry clay that is Boneware. I LOVE that stuff!!

  3. Try candleing your kiln. Put the pieces in, but leave lid open on #1 or low over night and the next day. I have been firing with the lid propped first and then shut it and fire normally. That usually cures the clay and helps it to stay in one piece! Love your posts!!

  4. Try candling your kiln before the normal firing process. Put pieces in and leave the lid open over night to let moisture escape. I often prop the lid and fire it normally then refire with the lid closed the next night. I have often had whole load blow up but with this method it does not happen! Blessings, love your blog and will also be going to NAEA in San Diego!


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