How does the clay firing process work?
Building POSITIVE CLAY HOUSES
In terms of Mental Health and Wellness we are all made up of many, many stages. We create our own milestones as we learn and progress throughout life. It is important to realize that art can many times reflect some of those stages and even mirror the image that we want from ourselves from the art that we create and try to create. Do not be afraid to welcome failure and trials in this process. We can only learn from what we truly understand and to understand it fully we need to understand how to make mistakes in each process. In creating and responding to clay and clay houses, both negative and positive houses, we encouraged participants to develop clay techniques like "slip and score" and making sure there are no "air bubbles" by kneading the clay, like dough.
Many techniques are developed as one learns to create using clay that will be fired in a kiln. It is necessary for the clay as well as us to go through stages of development.
The three stages are, greenware, bisque-ware and glaze-ware. The first stage is complete when the above mentioned, air bubbles and slip and score technique is complete. The clay must be well bound together, much like a real house and a real emotional state of mind. The next part is the greenware state, in which the clay has to be "bone" dry completely dry throughout before the clay is put into the kiln. If the clay is not completely dry it has the chance of exploding and possible falling on another piece. Once this clay is dry completely the clay works can be stacked and may touch each other in the kiln. The clay is fired very, very slowly to at least Cone 04, 1945-1971 degrees Fahrenheit.
This process takes 12.5 hours approximately, and requires the slow process and firing to allow the clay to reach 2 very important temperatures at that slow pace. One, is just below boiling point, and one is just above boiling point. This process of reaching specific temperature for a certain amount of time, allows the clay to bind together, creating the right molecule reaction and the clay itself is eventually turned into "glass" as many potters call it. Once the clay comes out the pieces are harder and tougher, and have a glasslike structure, scientifically.
The final process is the glaze process, or glaze-ware. This process involves actually adding a pre-mixed or mixed from glass, called silica, and other types of elements that has been prepared by a professional. These mixtures are toxic and are handled carefully, they are the part that can make a piece shiny and more like the dinnerware that we see everyday. It is a learned technique how to get the right colors and stains can assist with attaining a specific color or effect, as well.
The Three STAGES of CLAY:
(Earthenware): the form as we can find in the earth, the clay on the side of a riverbank that has not been processed; we did not use this process.
Greenware: This is the formed clay ready to be put into a kiln
Bisque-ware: This clay has been fired only once in the slow
fire to cone 04 at least and is ready to
be glazed. You can paint, pour, sponge and dip pieces into
a pre-mixed glaze. (TOXIC)
Glaze-ware: This clay has been fired with the glaze applied.
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Cone Temperatures: (Resource) Clay-King.com