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high fire guy in need of low fire help

updated sat 23 jul 05


pbapotte@PBAPOTTERY.COM on thu 21 jul 05

Hi all - here's the skinny:

I'm a stoneware, cone 10 reduction kind of guy that is trying to support a local
Empty Bowls program for the benefit of a local community nonprofit.

The program is going to consist of several after-school sessions where kids come
in and make either coil or pinch-pot bowls that will ultimately be
sold/auctioned at a fundraiser - I'm assuming many of you have heard of the
general idea before.

They'd like to be able to have the kids make their pots and glaze them all in
one big swoop so they don't have to ask the kids to return for a second visit
after a bisque firing. I haven't a clue regarding the capabilities of low-fire
clay and am extremely foggy about the potential use of underglazes on pieces
that are still wet (the sessions will be about 90 minutes in length)...

The kids are K-5th grade (5yrs - 11yrs old)...

So the team is looking for:
>> Recommended approach to building and glazing (and whether or not it's
feasible to have it done in one session or if the kids have to return twice)
>> Recommended clay body - they'll be being boxed clay, not mixing from scratch
>> Assuming small soup bowl sized forms, approximate amount of clay (currently
assuming about 500lbs. for 300 bowls...)
>> Recommended glaze manufacturer / line of product
>> Any idea on approximate budget to cover 300 bowls? They have set aside about
$900 for clay and glaze - are they on track, way off base?
>> Realistic number of kids a single knowledgeable volunteer can handle/guide at
>> Any other ideas associated with Empty Bowls programs any of you have
participated in (could've sworn I saw a string or two that mentioned them)

Look forward to hearing your opinions and experiences. pba.

Pete Anderson
St. Michael, MN

Snail Scott on fri 22 jul 05

At 02:43 PM 7/21/2005 -0700, you wrote:
>They'd like to be able to have the kids make their pots and glaze them all in
>one big swoop so they don't have to ask the kids to return for a second visit
>after a bisque firing.

Press-mold them from slabs pushed into plastic
bowls from the dollar store, or into heavy paper
bowls. Cooking spray will release the ones done
in plastic.

Have them decorate and glaze the bowls while
the're still in the molds. They won't be glazed
on the outside, of course, but that's OK. The
glaze needs to be mixed a bit thick, so that it
can be brushed onto leather-hard clay without
beig too thin. Most commercial glazes will be
thick enough if the bowls are set in the sun or
in front of a fan for an hour. Buy in quantity -
just a few colors. No red - it'll burn out over
greenware, and it's pricey. If you use underglaze,
make sure it's not still runny when the clear
goes over it - another half-hour in the sun,
then use a soft brush for the clear.

Unmold when they're just stiff enough, and gently
push each bowl against the tabletop, (fingers
inside, or use a small juice glass, etc, to push),
to give it a flattened spot on the bottom.