DHS Kiln Furniture Kit

Roger Sprau

Dexter High School

This past year the kiln used for baking or “firing” student ceramic projects was repaired so it is now in a working state. However, the kiln shelving and supports (furniture) that is used to place projects on exists in a damaged condition. Over time, if kiln shelves are not cared for properly, glaze (a glasslike paint) can run off of ceramic projects and fuse a piece of artwork to the kiln shelf. This also happens if attention is not given to the glaze application process. In most cases, if glaze fuses to kiln furniture it should be removed by using an angle grinder, Dremel or chiseled off with a screwdriver and hammer. This should be done before the next firing to prevent further damage to the shelves and to prevent the glaze from melting through them. Unfortunately the current furniture has undergone many firings in the past years with multiple damaging glaze runs. The glaze has never been removed so it has melted into both sides of the shelves as well as the kiln shelf supports. Having old glaze melted through and embedded on a kiln shelf creates the risk of art projects being fused to the shelf or damaged during the kiln firing and unloading process.
A new set of kiln furniture will allow for safe firing of student projects. New kiln shelves and supports will reduce the risk of shelves cracking due to melted glaze deposits and also decrease the risk of artwork fusing to the shelf. More student projects will survive the firing process and will be able to be displayed throughout the school district and community. A working kiln with undamaged furniture is essential for the ceramics program to be executed effectively.
Students will be provided with a lesson about kiln components, the science behind firing ceramic pieces and best glazing practices. Showing students the difference between damaged kiln furniture compared to undamaged kiln furniture will be an effective talking point to help support and encourage proper kiln maintenance and glazing practices.

impact

New kiln furniture will last a long time if cared for properly. Kiln shelves can last decades if they are handled with care. The current set is twenty years old. The kiln furniture will be used often every semester for two classes of twenty ceramics students. Over a ten year span, the new kiln furniture will be used to assist in the artwork completion of roughly eight hundred students and four thousand ceramic art projects. With having access to new kiln furniture, student artwork will have less risk of being damaged, allowing for more student artwork to be finished and displayed.