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Re:[teacherartexchange] clay questions


From: Jerry Vilenski (jvilenski_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu May 11 2006 - 19:20:00 PDT

I do clay all the time with elementary students, and
over the years I have found that a couple of things
effect how clay will fire: First, wedging is not
necessary with small pieces as long as you check the
clay for areas that are too thick in one spot and too
thin in another--sometimes the thick areas hide air
bubbles that can explode in the kiln. Second, you
must let clay properly dry before firing. That means
dry the pieces at least one week after they are
created. The way I check if they are ready to be
fired is touching the bottom of a pot--if it is cool
to the touch, it is too wet to fire, room temperature
means it is ok. Third, if you have consistently done
the first two steps, slow down the firing sequence at
the beginning stages so the clay can gradually heat up
and lose any hidden moisture before the shock of high
heat hits it in the kiln. Try the gradual technique
in reverse when cooling the clay- a sudden rush of
cool air when you open a kiln can fracture the clay or
crackle glaze. A kiln should be cooler than 200
degrees before opening.
I rarely have exploded pottery if I follow those
guidelines and don't try to fire pottery before it is
ready. Hope this helps, Jerry

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