I have been reading alot of good suggestions regarding the clay projects
that have exploded.
Personally, I LOVE clay and so do my students. I do a project with each
grade level k-5, from easy slab pockets
to full figure gargoyles in 5th grade.
In my experience to avoid explosions, be certain that the greenware is
completely dry. I have sometimes have clay dry for two weeks before I place
it in the kiln.
Also, avoid having the students wedge until they are older, (and do that art
teacher dance by jumping from table to table to make sure all are paying
attention to their project). Parent helpers are great during the clay unit,
I always have some come in.
When we begin clay I have an old sample of a project that exploded in the
kiln because of an air pocket. This always help stress to be careful not to
fold the clay onto itself which can cause air pockets.
For slab rolling I have slats of wood approximately the size of rulers that
the students lay on the table (2) parallel to one another then they roll
out their clay with a rolling pin. This way the wood insures that the slab
will not be too thin.
When creating heads I have the students gently pat the clay back and forth
between their hands molding like a snowball. Next, they cut into it with a
feting knife to create "pacman", thus creating the mouth. Then they are to
pinch out the ball to create a form, this elevates a thick ball of clay
which could create havoc in the kiln.
My best suggestion is to order goggles for your students to wear when
glazing. This year I had a student shake a bottle of glaze without checking
to see if the lid was on tight and yes, the glaze went all over her head to
toe. Her neighbor also got splashed and amazingly enough, the projects
didn't get a drop on them! Thank goodness I have the students wear goggles,
they saved me that day.
Don't give up, be patient and you will learn to love this unit!