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Lesson Plans

RE: Kiln difficulties

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Lincoln Arts (lincarts)
Tue, 2 Feb 1999 19:44:44 -0800


Oh, of course not (tongue firmly planted in cheek). Although, if you called
in the fire department like someone else on the list suggested - it would
definitely be 'more than what we bargained for' and you could earn a
'reputation' you don't want as being a trouble-maker, so.... I think your
idea of having another art teacher, someone who's experienced and is
well-respected is to your advantage; you're doing what you need to do to
protect you, your students, AND the school and district, while not just
caving in to the administration (who, it sounds like would just like to
maintain the status quo).

I know kilns can be expensive, but you need to have proper equipment -
properly wired and ventilated; too many things can go wrong otherwise. You
might investigate what a new kiln would cost, along with the necessary
ventilation (labor/equipment) and wiring, to have handy to discuss with the
principal (of course, if the district has a staff electrician the costs
could be lowered). You could have a fundraiser(s) (this list has had plenty
of ideas in the past - check the archives), and tell the principal, site
council, district superintendent or school board that you'll come up with
1/2 if they'll come up with 1/2.

I know there are grant opportunities out there, maybe you can get a grant to
cover some or most of the costs. There are also companies out there, who
surprisingly, don't get asked to donate.

I know our new-last-year high school teacher (she'd been an art teacher and
in the district for years - but was new to the high school) worked somewhat
in this manner to obtain financing for the clay program at the high school.
She went to her principal regarding beginning a clay program, and told him
she would apply for a grant from the county arts council for supplies and
guest artists to work on a clay tile mural for the school, but with no
equipment.... He agreed to back her request for a 'loan' from the school's
site council (which has a discretionary budget) to purchase a kiln, and
agreed to have the school's electricians wire and vent it if she got the 'loan'.

The site council 'loaned' her the funds to purchase the kiln, and the
principal had to follow through with getting it installed. Before trying
fundraisers, she applied to a regional company's foundation to request funds
for the equipment. They turned her down, so she then went to the company's
local representative - showed him her proposal, gave him a good 'song &
dance'; he went to the foundation's chairman, and ... she got the funds. In
the meantime, she went back to the site council, explained the situation -
and they agreed to forgive the 'loan' and gave her a few more dollars to boot!

She was on a roll, so she applied to the county's art council - which gave
her $$$ towards guest artists coming in and helping students create a tile
mural. She (and we went also to support her) went to our local clay pipe
(among other things) manufacturer with a proposal for $$$$. They gave her
wheels, a slab roller, staff to make presentations on clay mining, working,
etc. several times each semester, staff to help with the tile murals,
umpteen gallons of glazes, enough plaster bats and hand tools for each
student, and more. They gave her way over and above what she was asking.

Not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, but still verrrry curious as
to their generousity, we asked their representative - why so generous and
why now and never before - and was told they're excited to be helping start
a clay program in a 'clay town,' the industry will need future workers and
if nobody has training..., and most importantly, 'nobody ever asked us before.'

Sometimes it just takes a fresh mind with new ideas to open other people's
eyes as to the advantages/disadvantages in a program; it sounds like, at
your school,'re it!

Good luck!!
>I have talked to both the principal and the supt. They said not to call in
>anyone who may create more than what we bargined for. They want to call in
>someone to repair it. I don't think they realize the total picture. I am
>a new teacher too so that doesn't help matters. I am going to have another
>art teacher from the next district over come and look at it since she is
>well respected. I'll let you know what happens.
>I don't think you have to be an experienced art teacher to determine that
>this kiln sounds like bad news and major safety hazard. Have you talked to
>your department head or principal about it?
>>Can anyone help me out. I am a new teacher, and I acquired a kiln that
>>looks like it should be replaced. There is no metal casing or double wall
>>around the unit. A prong is missing from the inside. And the entire
>thing is just a bunch of fire bricks put together with metal straps. The
>>are extremely brittle and break easily. The teacher that used it last
>year only said that it burnt up the last two loads and it got so hot and
>>that she had to come on Saturdays and run it. It actually burn the tiles
>>underneath it on the floor so that they ended up purchasing a heat shield
>>for it. It is not vented and sits on regular bricks on top of the floor.
>> I don't have instructions for it and and the teacher from last year said
>>only to put it on low for two hours high for four and low for two--which
>>sounds a bit odd to me. It is not automatic. Does anyone have any
>>suggestions? How does a new art teacher determine the safety of a kiln?
Jeanne-Marie Fritts
Executive Director