Ceramics Management Tip: Firing Multiple Stages of Clay at the Same Time

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.

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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.

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4 thoughts on “Ceramics Management Tip: Firing Multiple Stages of Clay at the Same Time

  1. Pingback: Ceramics Lesson: Ceramic Zoo Animal and Paper Habitat Sculptures | WonderBrooks

  2. Pingback: Ceramics Management Tip: Glaze Storage & Distribution | WonderBrooks

  3. Pingback: Ceramics Lessons and Management Tips | WonderBrooks

  4. I’ve done the same thing but had some of the glaze wear shivering(Small cracks as a result of not a good fit of clay/glaze). There was little flakes of glaze popping off. Let just say my kido’s were not eating ice cream out of their coil bowls last year. A big disappointment at the end of the year.

    I too use Mayco Stroke and coat and it seems crazy that it would have a fit problem with its flexibility to glaze at any stage. I talked with a rep at an art conference from Amaco and she said they have had some bad batches of clay… When I called them I got no word back on my batches. I am in the middle of finishing clay right now… I really hope this doesn’t happen again! I had to place my order before we did clay last year. I don’t think I will be ordering Amaco again this year! What kind of clay do you use?

    Thanks so much! you have a great blog! I’m so happy I found it. 🙂

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