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Lesson Plans

Re: Ceramics help (reply long)

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Numo Jaeger & Michael Miller (jaegmil)
Sat, 29 May 1999 10:04:10 -0700

I have found that working with stoneware clay that contains fine grog or
fine sand is a great clay body for working with elementary school children.
We use Quayle clay from Murphy CA. It is a small family run business. The
people there are really friendly and helpful. I like the fact that it is a
family run business too. I believe in supporting the small business.

The earthenware clay body's texture is so smooth and it feels really nice.
Some people find that it is difficult to work with because of the lack of
body. Grog in the clay body will allow you to make shapes and forms that
would be difficult to make with a grogless clay or very fine dense clay.

Though kiln accidents are rare, they do occur on occasion. If there is a
kiln accident where the kiln continues to fire and does not shut off,
earthenware clay melts like lava and you can ruin shelves, bricks, posts
and all the pieces in the kiln too! What a mess! I have seen it happen
several times at a number of different institutions.

Use low fire glazes that are leadless. We use leadless glazes from Leslie
Ceramics in Berkeley. (another Family run business)

Leslie Ceramics
1212 San Pablo Avenue
Berkeley CA

They have a catalog and mail order all over the world.

You might consider having the younger children just paint their work with
watercolors or not at all. Kindergarden students are a little young for
working with glazes. Remember- their bodies are growing and changing at a
very rapid rate. The materials that color the glazes are chemicals. Small
children do not understand that they should not put their hands in their

Firing a kiln is pretty simple. It isn't much different from cooking on the
oven. Clay pieces that are green (unfired) should be preheated after they
are bonedry for at least 4 hours on low with the lid open. I usually pilot
the pieces overnight. Then I know they are really dry and won't blow up.
Nothing is worse than telling a little kid their piece blew up in the kiln.

Turn up the kiln every two hours then following day.

Glaze firing can be done much faster. Less issues with pieces blowing up
because they have already gone through the quartz inversion state.

You can simplify the process if you have a computer kiln controller unit.
It will do all the work for you on the preset programs.

Hope this helps.


Numo Jaeger
Ceramics/Sculpture Coordinator
Studio One Art Center
Oakland CA

At 05:58 PM 5/28/99 EDT, Sages7 wrote:
>Okay artsednetters, I need your help! I teach K-5th grades, and next year
>will have a kiln to actually fire work in. I am very excited about this, but
>also a little fearful. I have no kiln experience!! I was a
>painting/printmaker in college so my clay experience is limited. My question
>to you all is what brands of glazes and clay do you recommend. We will only
>be handbuilding next year, no wheel thrown work. I am doing my ordering now
>and really have no clue what to order! I am hoping to practice this summer
>my own work so that I can build my confidence (hopefully)!. Do any of you
>have advice for this newbie kiln firer?? I would really appreciate any
>you can give.
>I have a Skutt Electronic Kiln LT3K. We are used to working with Lizella
>clay, but I am unsure about firing this.
>Thanks in advance,
>Heather in GA