A new “test” kiln is giving high school students more options when it comes to creating their artwork.
The Ottawa Hills Schools Parent Association funded the $865 purchase as part of its annual wish-list funding program. The request came from Kristin Johnson, the high school art teacher.
“The new test kiln gives students the ability to try out glaze combinations before applying them to their bisque ware, which is pottery fired for the first time but awaiting glaze,” Mrs. Johnson said. “Glaze combinations too often exit their final glaze fire looking different than anticipated. This can result in students feeling less enthusiastic about a piece they were initially excited to see finished.”
That feeling is common among artists working with clay and the surface-decoration process, she added. “Every potter goes through it,” Mrs. Johnson added. “The purpose of a test kiln is to reduce that uncertainty and help students produce more predictable results consistently.”
The kiln’s firing chamber is 8 inches by 8 inches by 9 inches. It was delivered this summer and is the process of being set up in her kiln room adjacent to her classroom.
Besides testing capabilities, the kiln provides two other benefits. First, it enables students to participate more in the “firing” process by learning to load and operate the kiln. Second, its smaller size allows smaller batches of work to be loaded. For example, a student who needs a piece by a specific due date can use the test kiln.
In addition to helping students in Ceramics I and II classes, the kiln eventually will benefit students in craft-based classes. In those classes, students can use the kiln on small projects, such as fused-glass pieces that could function as jewelry or elements of a stained glass piece.