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student kiln cleaning after the "big one"


Date: Sun Jun 06 2004 - 15:34:13 PDT

I too always get the....ooohhhhhh...let's have something blow up! But it is
just an initial response, I can't imagine an elementary age student really
wanting their work to explode. They love clay too much! In fact, I tell them
that exploding pottery is a way of life for ceramic artists...that they often
make a hundred pots to find that one perfect pot that is art. That kiln
accidents happen even if everything is exactly the same as it was the day before.

This pep talk saved me when the day before our art show last year we lost 45
pieces of sculpture! It was heart breaking and I was in tears....I could
barely tell the children. They took it much better than I did. The kiln was in
really bad shaped, glaze every where, every piece had completely melted, there
was nothing left! The thermostat had gotten stuck and did not shut off and I
had set the back up timer for too long. Part mechanical error, part human
error...but it was how I had always done it.....that one time it did not work.

Anyway, I would not use cleaning up one's kiln explosion as punishment. I
suppose older students might really think that destroying their own work and
maybe others is funny. Kiln explosions happen, it is a part of the process.
Even to the extent that you have the perfect work, it came through the kiln
perfectly, then it gets dropped!! I tell kids it is the nature of working with

However, the good part is, we hardly ever have a kiln explosion, even when I
forget to make the hole. Just lucky I guess, for now!

i won't even go into having elementary students wedge up clay as punishment.