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Frequently Ignored Answers For Ceramics
Q: I'm done with everything so I have nothing to do (except chat, text, other classes' homework, etc.) Why are you looking at me like you want to light my butt on fire?
FIA: Completing one attempt at a project does not mean you're done; it means that it's time to try something again or something else so you can continue to get better. Your time in the studio is your only chance to work, and I'm only interested in the last best outcome of your using every single minute available. Eighty percent of your grade is based on how much you use studio TIME to work purposefully with clay.
Q: What's going on? What do I have to do? Wait, you never told us that. I'm so confused.
FIA: Pull your head out of your phone, pay attention when I'm talking, take notes, read the clear written instructions I've given you, and follow directions. You will make your life much easier.
Q: We have to do two visits, one to a gallery and one to a museum?
FIA: As I've said a million times, and as it says on the syllabus and on the visit form, for this assignment you must visit BOTH a fine art gallery AND a fine art museum - TWO separate places. If you are still confused, I suggest reading up on the words 'both' and 'and' (uh-oh . . ).
Q: My piece disappeared! I can't find it! Where did it go?
FIA: (Where did you put it last? Did you even look there?) If your piece was greenware and you no longer see it on the greenware cart, it is loaded in one of the electric kilns and waiting to be fired, or being fired; OR it's on the shelf of shame because it had no name on it, was a boat anchor, or was in some other way unfinished or flawed and not ready to be fired; OR, it's been fired and has been sitting on the front counter right in front of your face. If it was waiting to be glaze fired, it is either a). right where you left it, b). loaded in the kiln and about to be fired, or firing, c). on the shelf o' shame, or d). right in front of you, though you were sure yours wasn't quite that ugly color - see, there's your name on the bottom.
Q: When will my piece get fired? I've been waiting FOOOOREEEEEVERRRRR!
FIA: When there is enough work to fill the kiln it will be fired in. A full kiln heats better and wastes less energy. When will there be enough work? When YOU make enough work to fill up the kiln - get busy. Bisque/low-fire kilns usually fill up every couple weeks at the start of the semester, and sometimes a couple times a week as things get going. Cone 10 firings are less frequent, with often a month or so between. If you want your pieces promptly, don't miss the kiln loading deadlines.
Q: What glaze is this on my piece?
FIA: Write down the glazes you use as soon as you're done glazing, otherwise you'll forget, or be unsure when the color doesn't turn out as you expect.
Q: Why did the glaze turn out so hideous?
FIA: Make sure to thoroughly stir up the glazes before applying them, and make sure the glaze coat on your piece is not too thin, splotchy or otherwise uneven: this is the most common reason. A well-stirred glaze will have an even creamy consistency in the bucket from top to bottom, and not have sludge at the bottom. Not spending a couple minutes to make sure your glazes are stirred up is a good way to ruin weeks of work.
Q: When are you going to bring cookies again? Will you give me the recipe?
FIA: When I feel like it and have time. Hint: when I don't have to deal with problems in class, when everyone is working and cool things are being made, when I'm not stuck with cleaning up after everyone, then I'm much more likely to spread the joy. If you want cookies, help your class be an awesome creative *learning* place.
To date I am only giving out the recipe if you come back after attending a four year college and show me the bachelor's degree you've earned. For a little more immediate gratification, you can either take more art classes - mwahaha - or do a little experimenting like I did. Either way you'll have fun and learn more.
Q: Can I eat off of what I make? Are the glazes safe?
A: If the piece was glazed with an appropriate liner glaze and fired to cone 10 it is perfectly suited for food use. Pieces appropriately glazed and fired to cone 06 are also food safe, but less durable. Raku fired pieces are not for food use.
Q: Can I put the cup/bowl/plate that I made in the dishwasher?
A: If it was fired to cone 10 using food-safe glazes, it should be safe to go in the dishwasher. However, dishwashing detergent is very aggressive, and can wear the glazes and colors over time. For hand-made one-of-a-kind pieces that you enjoy, why not enjoy them a little more and wash them by hand?
For pieces fired to cone 06, I recommend hand washing.
Q: Can I put the cup/bowl/plate that I made in the microwave or oven?
A: All pieces should be considered experimental in nature, both in the making and the firing, and there are no guarantees that things will not suddenly go to pieces on you. However, if it is white stoneware or porcelain, you should be pretty safe in the microwave. Do not use pieces in the oven for baking.