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artteachR16

Newspaper burnout in clay busts...help!

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Hello! I am brand new to this forum, and I joined for the purpose of trying to find the answer to this question. I am a high school art teacher, and I have two students who each created a bust out of no. #25 white art clay. Both pieces have newspaper stuffed inside of the head and neck. I am not so sure about putting them in the kiln, because I am worried that the newspaper will catch on fire, and smoke will pour out of my kiln and cause panic in the school (can you tell that I have had this happen before?) I also thought about using a butane torch to burn out the newspaper, but I don't know if that will reach all the way inside, and I don't want to risk ruining the details if I don't have to. Does anyone have any solutions for this issue? I have attached photos of the work, and the underneath of the first bust (the other is too risky to hold and take a photo).  Please help if you can! I need to fire these as soon as I can. Thank you so much! 

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You really need to get as much of that newspaper out of there as possible. I've dealt with several schools where the smoke was too much for the kiln venting system and it set off the fire alarms. It's a good way to get the kilns shut down permanently. Have those students get to work cleaning out the busts.

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You/they need a very thick piece of foam to upturn the busts, and get out that newspaper.  They also need to make sure the clay is as even thickness as they can.  The newspaper could well have stopped the clay from drying properly, and you don't want wet clay in the kiln, let alone all that smoke.

I made a hollow Poppy that had newspaper inside to support the walls.  It was just one crumpled sheet.  Don't know what happened during firing, as it was fired in the community centre kiln, overnight when the building was unoccupied.  On removing from the kiln some dust shook out of the holes.  But there was no other noticeable affect.

Poppy

 

Edited by Chilly
Typo

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They can use exactos and tweezers to pull out the newspaper and a long thin sureform to plane down the inside walls a bit if needed. They also might want to consider not firing these (especially with other peoples' work in the kiln) and instead redoing the project after doing some research for better planning and construction from the git-go. 

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Main reason why I discourage people from using wadded newspaper and other armatures when hand building sculpture, they're usually unnecessary with proper construction methods and can create problems like you're experiencing.

I'd bust out a drill and make a hole up into the neck cavity from the base, then get at it with extracting as much paper as you can.

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Dont use a butane torch to try to burn the paper out before firing. If you do,  since the rest of the piece is cool, you will likely create hot spots which may crack, or destroy the busts. Paper ignites at 450*ish, physical water smokes off around 215*. If your bringing the temp of the clay beyond water smoking stage, while there is still water in the clay........

   If you have a raku kiln...that is outside...and have bisqued in a gas kiln before, and feel comfortable doing so, then take it outside and bisque it there, and then no issues about smoke. Otherwise, remove the paper, keep the school happy and smoke down.

  In the future, have your students plan for how to remove the paper or any armature from their forms. Or, you can teach them to sculpt solid, then wire it open and hollow the form out.

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