This is the first of a weeklong blog post extravaganza. I will be posting a ceramic tip as well as a ceramic lesson with student examples each day. Stay tuned for more ceramic management tips and lessons!
Since I have at least four different grade levels working on ceramics at the same time, and because I have sculptures in multiple different stages in the firing process, and because I only have one kiln for over 800 students, it is important to me to always load the kiln to the brim and fire as many sculptures at a time as possible. I only use white earthenware clay that can be fired at cone 05-06.
I use Mayco Stroke & Coat glazes, which can be fired at cone 06-10. If I have greenware and glazed pieces that need to be fired at the same time, I load them all into the kiln together, then fire at standard speed at cone 06. This way, I don’t have to keep different stages/classes separate and I can make the most of every firing. I don’t know if there is any methodology or reasoning against doing this, and in the past 7 years I have never had a problem doing so. As long as my greenware is completely dry, and I fire at standard speed, everything comes out just as it does when fired separately.
This may all seem very obvious to some of you, but when I first started teaching I had no ceramic sculpture or kiln firing experience. The first year I only ever fired things at their individual stages for fear that if I mixed and matched something would turn out terribly. At my first school I did not have an automatic kiln and I had to fire greenware very slowly throughout the day. I fired glassware much more quickly. Now that I have the electric kiln I am able to program it this way and save myself lots of loads and hassle.