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I am a high school ( mixed grades 10-12)  art teacher whose specialties include drawing, painting, and photography.  I took a ceramics class in high school and one in college. I asked for training over the summer but did not receive it. I am looking into training through night/weekend classes through a local ceramist/ art teacher. 

The biggest challenge of starting to teach Ceramics (as a full day class and as an elective class) is that the new art room that will have a kiln and a throwing wheel and space (hopefully) for clay projects is not done yet. We started school early August and I have been told we might have a kiln ready earliest around Thanksgiving time.  I am not expecting one until maybe next semester. 

I went from having 17 students in my day class to 11 after explaining that we do not have a kiln yet.  

So far we have only been able to use self-drying clay, which works alright but is nothing like the real process of ceramics and the clay once dry is so fragile it breaks very easily.  

 

Any advice for curriculum/projects without a kiln that can keep up the interest of the students left?  And help prepare them for the real thing?

Also, if anyone has a ballpark number for how much ceramics supplies will cost and what the best place to get them from is that would be very helpful as I am working on our new budget for the year.

 

Thank you for any advice!

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Hi teacher77,

I taught for 36 years, the last 34 I had Ceramics classes. I usually started the year off with introduction, to clay, terms, tools, and some ceramics history and general knowledge. I had them bring in cardboard boxes, about 18X24, lidded margarine containers for slip, and plastic bags. Most kids just brought in a lidded plastic bin. The margarine container was for slip, and bag to keep clay and pots moist. We usually started with slabs in October, as I had them design their first slab project with preliminary sketches, something like Crooked House, or Spirit house. They did up detailed designs with front and side views that allowed them to scale up everything. We used proportioning tools to make certain that when we started with the clay we knew how large everything was.

 

Worked well, and usually we were working on the second (coil project) in November, and the next two in December, glazing as we went. Yo can make this work as long as you get assurances that you can start firing after Thansksgiving.

 

best,

Pres

Benzine likes this

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I'm with Pres, if you can get a guarantee that you'd have a kiln by Thanksgiving, you could start using actual clay.  Are you on a 7-8 Period schedule with Semesters?  

Around Thanksgiving is usually my deadline for wet clay work anyway.  After that, it was just underglazing greenware, glazing bisqueware and getting the room cleaned and squared away.

If that still won't work, oven-baked clay, may give you better results, than air dried.  I can't say for certain, as I've never used either.

In regards to material suppliers, knowing your location would allow others to give you better recommendations.  For instance, I live in the Midwest, and use Continental Clay.  They are a State away, and can get things to me rather fast.

You might want to order as soon as possible too.  Some items, do not like freezing temps, and some suppliers won't even ship certain things, in the winter months, because of this.  

Best of Luck!

Pres likes this

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Thank you Benzine! It is hard because I have not received a guaranteed new art room with a kiln opening date. My biggest problem aside from no kiln is lack of storage for in progress and finished work in my classroom. It was not made as an art room and can fit more flat art than 3D art. 

There are no shelves for clay in progress work. 

I am located in Southern California.

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Storage, is always a concern...

I use wire racks, that can be purchased at any big box hardware store.  They each have 5-6 shelves, and I divide each shelf into thirds.  So a student gets one of those thirds.  It is generally enough space, unless  I have two of my ceramic classes going on at once, which can and does happen.  In that case, I have to use some of the bat/ ware board storage space.  The racks I use can hold a couple hundred pounds per shelf.

Will your kiln be in the main classroom, or a separate room?  I have always had racks/ shelves, near the kiln, for students to set finished projects.  For one, I knew that it meant they were done.  Second, it helped dry the greenware, as the kiln was running.

In California, I would imagine that Laguna is the place to go for a lot of your materials.  I've never used Laguna clay myself, but have heard nothing but good things.

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