There's nothing worse than hearing an explosion. Especially for me, because it means that someone's dedication and hard work has ended horribly.
Pottery explosions happen in the kiln. They're easy to avoid but it happens more than you'd think.
It all starts with thinking about moisture. When we fire pieces we absolutely need them to be dry and solid!
Explosions happen because your piece hasn't dried evenly, which causes steam to build up. The thing with steam is that it has to go somewhere...and when it's in the kiln it goes through your piece...with force.
The second reason for explosions are air pockets. When your piece is in the kiln it burns...in a cool way. The organic matter in the clay combusts, which is usually fine, but if your piece isn't solid and has a hidden air pocket then the steam from the organic matter builds up - and again has no where to go except through your piece.
How Do You Avoid Explosions?
Keep your pieces thin(ish). While you want your pottery to have substance (otherwise they will crack), you also want to keep them nice and slim.
It’s all about balance.
Pottery with clay walls or sections over 2 cm thick may explode in the kiln.
If you are making a thicker piece then take the time to ensure your piece has been hollowed out where possible for air flow.
Keep it thin or hollowed. Air flow is the most important part of ensuring explosions are kept to a minimum.
We've been running beginners classes for some time and I'm here today to share a few words from my past newbie students.
In the slideshow below you'll see examples of beginner pottery standards and information about our classes.
After all, if you're going to take pottery lessons you should know exactly what people like you thought about them!
Shirley Anderson came to visit the 8-week pottery class hosted in my home studio. And I was beyond excited to try out this new-to-me technique. It turned out to be such an adventure and really fun. Shirley is a master storyteller and her visit would have been worth it just for the entertainment it was an extra bonus that she also showed us how to use Mocha Diffusion.
Mocha Diffusion does sound like a delicious coffee but it's even more exciting than that. The process is a little-known technique that was developed in the southwest of England, primarily used to create beautiful decorative patterns.
At it's core, mocha diffusion is a chemical reaction from alkali and acid. One is used for the base, the other for decoration. When you add a drop of your 'mocha tea' it bleeds out from the point of contact creating veins similar looking to a tree or, if you're more of a romantic, like frost creeping across glass.
If you want to know more about mocha diffusion read this great article by Pottery Making Illustrated, which dives deeper into the techniques, history and the end product.
The whole process was so much fun and gave me lots of insight on being a complete newbie again. I'd never done it before and it quickly became about learning an entirely different technique.
It's been a while since I challenged myself in pottery and it's hard coming to terms with not getting close to perfect technique straight away.
I always dipped my item too deep! So it was a messy experience for me!
My students, on the other hand, were far more adept.
Offering pottery classes to adults and kids in Athens, Brockville, and Kingston, ON.