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Why Soda Firing

The pots in a soda kiln usually don’t have much glaze on the outsides of them, they are glazed by the introduction on soda ash, which volatiles when it hits the flame and creates a glaze. The flame then carries the soda ash through the kiln and the pots become glazed wherever the flame and soda kiss the pots.

Here you see me spraying the soda ash which is mixed with boiling water, into the kiln at about 2200 degrees.

 The results can be greatly varied with this type of firing. For me, that's a big part of the fun of it. You never know with 100% certainty, what you will get from the kilns.

This pot shows where the glaze hit the surface and really added a nice difference in appearance. The green you see is a spearmint glaze that I used inside the pot and along the rim. The soda mixed with that glaze and made it very dark, almost black in some spots and almost white in others. You can also see where it kissed the shoulder of the vessel and the handles. The orange color is from a flas…

The Importance of Arts Programs for Kids

Yesterday my friend Gary Rith posted this article where he mentioned how we need more after school arts programs for kids. When I started to write a comment my thoughts got too big for just a comment. I thought my feelings on Arts programs for kids needed a bigger space and more voice.

By now you’ve most likely heard the commercials and arguments about how learning music helps kids (and all people) learn math. We’ve heard the argument that learning art helps kids realize that problems can be solved multiple ways and creative thinking is good for everyone. Nobody became CEO of any company without being able to think creatively. Art education helps with that. I is far more than finger painting. It also helps keep kids in school. I know, I was one of those kids.

When I was in elementary school and junior high school (like middle school only somehow different) I didn’t like school. I came up with every excuse to avoid going, I was “sick,” or truant whenever possible. I had no reason to go to school, in my young opinion. I would have rather stayed home and read a book than go to classes. Despite all of this I was an above average student, I just didn’t like going, I wasn’t interested.
Early pottery of Lori Buff’s on Future Relics pottery blog.
Early Ceramics

Then I took an art class in 10th grade that changed everything. I had always enjoyed and even looked forward to art class but this was different. The teacher explained art theory, gave us interesting and challenging assignments, and made it fun. She cared about kids and art. I became interested in going to school.

This same teacher taught ceramics so I signed up for the class in my junior year of high school. Of course I was hooked and the rest is history. But the thing is, I didn’t want to miss a day of school because of these art classes and in the process I discovered a really great history teacher and a fantastic English teacher. I seriously enjoyed and learned from those classes too. I made certain my schedule was as filled as possible with art classes (we had a great school system) but I also learned that the other classes could be enjoyable also. School became interesting and fun. I wanted to go there. That would never had happened if budget cuts had removed the art classes.

My story is one of the main reasons I hate seeing art classes cut from the budget. What was your favorite class in school?

Check out the gallery page - Future Relics Gallery by Lori Buff

Comments

  1. Art was always my favorite when I was in school. I didn't have very good art teachers in elementary school. We did mostly cut and paste projects, where the teacher made a model. Then when I got to Junior High I had an awesome teacher. She really taught art and introduced us to pottery, both the wheel and hand building. Unfortunately in high school, art classes were disappointing. Only one pottery class and you couldn't take it until you completed art 1 through three. Even then I think it was only one semester long :-(

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    1. At least you had pottery classes in school, some people have to wait until college to take pottery classes and then they have to switch their major. Hehehe.

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  2. I went to Catholic schools and there wasn't much art (I don't recall any but maybe there was some) we had Latin and more reading and math classes; although my favorite subjects were geography and biology, my last two years of high school I went to a public school and I took music and drama and loved singing and acting. the earlier years I voluntarily went to summer school just so I could take art classes and loved them and I did art at home in my free time, painting, india ink, drawing, writing, sewing, etc. For any child art teaches critical thinking which helps train the mind to solve problems in any subject and develops the mind to solve life's problems later in life - it is definitely important and I believe a necessity. A real shame when art classes are the first ones to be cut from the budgets.

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    1. I find it a little funny that the organization that holds the largest art collection in the world (the Catholic Church) didn’t have meaningful art classes.

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  3. ha I didn't know that, perhaps there was art but I don't remember any, there's a lot wrong with many churches but they also do a lot of good and they are good for a lot of people; I just remember Sister Mary Rene in seventh grade telling me babies not baptized went to purgatory till Christ came again, I said that couldn't be right. Since God was all loving; why would he send an innocent infant to purgatory for years, she was dumbstruck and couldn't answer; I got called to the office with my parents and the pastor priest; I still insisted it couldn't be right, later my parents said to just keep quiet about my theological theories, that was the end of my belief and subscription to organized religions and many of their theories.

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    1. Interesting story Linda, I’ve often wondered the same thing myself. How could so many people believe that’s true and why would anyone want to hurt parents who had lost a child even further. Maybe someone here will read this comment and help with an answer for us both.

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  4. Thanks for the link, etc. You know, everybody took my post in a different way than I intended: I was NOT actually talking about art in schools. I assume that schools have some (ha! stupid me, yes, always cut from budgets). What I was talking about more specifically was here is this great kid who loves art and her mother can't afford after school art classes. And what a shame that is...but really, it is all the same thing: there needs to be more art classes for everybody everywhere, especially young people, before they become criminals or closed minded insurance agents who just sit around all weekend watching sports on TV and eating doritos...

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    1. Ahh, but you planted a seed Gary. Of course you are right, it would be wonderful if every kid had the opportunity to practice art at some point. Maybe you could open your studio to this little girl for a couple hours every week.

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    2. I know--but that is a minefield too. I have to be careful of working for free and giving out free materials because I earn doodley squat as it is...although I have given out plenty of free lessons to plenty of people, I always try to gently direct them to paid classes elsewhere, which is how this conversation began!

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    3. That’s one of the reasons I’m so happy I have this opportunity to teach a really reasonably priced class. I get paid and people get to learn the love of clay.

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  5. My art education in school was pretty much of a joke. My early interest in all things creative were encouraged and taught to me by my sister who was eight years older. It wasn't until I had returned to school (second round) as an English major that a friend looked at me after I had done a drawing and said "You are good at this. When are you going to switch your damn major to art?" OH!

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    1. Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees.

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  6. I taught HS art classes in a large rural HS in Central PA. Art was often what got some kids out of bed in the mornings, made their days more bearable, and gave them purpose. All too often in the days of budget restraint or cuts, art is left outside of the classroom. Such a shame, for those kids I have already mentioned, but it affects much more than those, as the entire school environment is jeapardized when art is not longer existent in the environment. After school classes, just does not cut it. Not nearly enough when the people teaching them often do not have education backgrounds, and have not been trained to deal with the type of student that is often in the after school program because of home environments. Sometimes you get the good ones, but not too often. . . they usually take private lessons. Arts, all of them, belong in the schools, during the school day, affecting the environment, the entire student body, and the teaching staff. Don't tell me that there isn't a change when they are there as compared to not.

    best,
    Pres

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comments and welcome to the blog. I hadn't thought about how a trained, professional teacher is likely to be better equipped to help kids when I wrote the article. It's another good point and reason to keep the arts in schools.
      Thanks.

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