My kiln is in the back of my classroom. Due to the smell from firing, I never fire the kiln when my students are present. I turn on the kiln at the end of the day. One day, I stayed after school to catch up on grading. After the kiln had been on for three hours, I heard it: the infamous popping sound coming from the kiln. I immediately knew what happened…Someone’s clay piece, their precious artwork, exploded.
I ran through all the reasons how their clay project could have blown up. Was it too wet? Maybe there were too many air bubbles? Was it my fault? I immediately felt guilty. I probably didn’t let them dry out long enough. I thought I did…
Worst of all, what was I going to say to the student? How was I going to explain that the artwork they worked on for a week exploded? What if it hit another piece and that project exploded too? Luckily, in most cases, the students are able to remake their projects. If I’m pinched on time, I have them re-make them in air-dry clay. Is it the same? No. Does it give them a project to take home? Yes. Not to mention, it creates a learning experience for all of us.
Have you ever heard the awful popping sound from your kiln?
How do you handle situations when clay projects explode?