Things You Should All Know… which you won’t be told in class. So read this!
There are links to other important pages all students should explore farther down this page, and in a drop-down menu from the nav-bar above, but to get started, read this page.
Class Cancellations Due to Foul Weather Policy
If the Pittsburgh Public Schools have a 2-hour delay or are closed, Fireborn MAY close or delay also. Schools sometimes close because of cold weather, but cold weather is not a sufficient reason for us to delay or close. Delays and closings for Fireborn will be posted here by 8:30 a.m. for morning classes and 4:30 p.m. for evening classes. We will reschedule if feasible. I probably won’t be notifying you by text or email, so check here on the website.
The Flow of Pots Through the Studio
Class 1: Learn the basics and make some pots. Class 2 through 7: Trim pots from the week before and make more pots. By week 6 you should have enough pots to begin glazing some of them. As part of a community of potters that produces hundreds of pots a week, I cannot emphasize FLOW enough. Pots move through the studio like cars on an assembly line. Each week you need to move all your pots along to the next stage. Trim what you threw last week and glaze what was bisque, and take home any finished work. Otherwise, we have a conveyor belt breakdown, and no one’s work can move forward at any stage. We run out of shelf space and production grinds to a halt. So each week you must trim, glaze and take home finished work.
On week 8, if you are not returning you will only trim and glaze. If you are returning next term, you can make more pots on week eight. Class 8: This is the last class of the term. If you are not returning next term, READ THIS (click here)
Partly dry pots are called leather hard. They are stiff like leather. Dry, unfired pots are called greenware. Greenware is hard but brittle. “Greenware” will break down in water. Greenware gets fired to 1800 degrees F. and becomes bisque ware. “Bisque ware” has undergone a physical change and will no longer breakdown (dissolve) in water. It is stronger than greenware and very porous. Next, you will wax and glaze your bisque ware. Then it goes through a second, much hotter firing in the huge gas kiln where temperatures reach 2400 Degrees F. It takes 18 hours to reach the maximum temperature and then it cools for another 18 hours. Finally, your pots are all finished. They are now food safe, non-pours and will last thousands of years. They can be used in a dishwasher, microwave, and oven.
Note: New students will not have any bisqueware until week 4, because that is how long it takes for pots you made on week one to become leather hard, get trimmed, dry and get bisqued.
Signing Your Pots
All student pots must be clearly identifiable at all times. Freshly made pots get a paper label with your last name, class symbol, and the date they were made (Hetrick symbol, 8-25-02, no initials, please). After you trim your pots, sign the bottom with your last name, your class mark, and the date they were trimmed. Pots lacking legible identification will be discarded.
Wax the bottom and up a full 1/4 inch from the bottom of the pot. If your pot has a lid, see Dan for special instructions on waxing lids. Clean your brush well, close the wax jar and change the water when you are done. If you spill wax, change the paper on the workbench. Use your brush for applying wax and clean it well in hot water. Use the green wax on the bottom of your pots. The yellow wax is for lids but don’t use it without getting special instructions.
Glaze during the last hour of class. Each week, glaze ALL your bisque ware. We don’t have room to store your bisque ware for weeks. They will be fired as is, so do a good job glazing and sponging. After glazing, allow 10 to 15 minutes to clean up. Wipe tables, bucket lids, and work surfaces well and leave a clean studio. Students who have been at Fireborn for less than a year are in the beginner glazing group.
Please buy clay at the beginning of class. Clay purchases in the middle of class are disruptive. Clay sales are debit, credit, or check only – no cash.
Students will receive 25 pounds of clay on the first day of the term which was included in their tuition. Another 25 pounds of clay may be purchased for $36. After that clay costs $50 for 25 pounds. The price increase covers the added expenses associated with high volume production. Classes are designed for learning. There are limits to the size of the work you produce and the amount of clay you can purchase. Fireborn’s classes are not intended for production throwing. If you are running a business you need to be doing that out of your own studio.
Reclaiming Your Clay
Squash clay onto the plaster bat so there are no sharp edges and put your initials on it. The fan may get turned on, so don’t let your clay get too dry. Bag your scrap and wedge it before using it again.
Notebook / Journal / Sketchbook
Keeping track of where your pots are in the studio cycle and how you glazed your work is helpful. Some people photograph their pots after trimming and glazing. Some people sketch them. Some number them. Click here to see a sample journal entry. I suggest you maintain a notebook or sketchbook. You can buy one or print this Student Notebook. A sketchbook is also useful for designing new work.
I will clean the floor around them. Don’t sweep during class because it makes dust which is unhealthy to breathe.
Cleaning Up Your Wheel
Clean your wheel, especially under the wheel head and then sponge up the dribbles and clay globs on the floor around your wheel. Wash splash pans in the sink. Dump the slurry in the sink, dregs go through the screen and into the gray slop bucket. Scrape bats. Splash pans should be put back on the wheels. Foot pedal should be set up on the wheel so the floor can be easily cleaned. When removing splash pans and wiping off wheels, clay sometimes dribbles onto the floor. Please use a towel or sponge to clean the floor around your wheel.
Pottery Tools and Supplies
You can buy most tools at Fireborn. The Clay Place, in Carnegie on Walnut Street, between the railroad tracks and the Chartiers Creek, has a wide variety of specialized tools. For ordering online, try Axner in Florida.
Please bring your own towel.
Evening classes, please be cleaned up and ready to walk out the door at 9:30. Morning classes, please depart by 12:30.
To maintain studio flow: ALWAYS, every time you come to class, trim everything and glaze everything.
Links to More Information
- Sign up for next term before classes fill up.
- Make-up classes.
- Ending your term.
- Throwing help.
- Glazing help.
- Saturday Studio Access
- Expanding your knowledge VERY IMPORTANT.
- Reading list.
Class Cancellations Due to Foul Weather Policy
If the Pittsburgh Public Schools have a 2-hour delay or are closed, Fireborn MAY close or delay also. Schools sometimes close because of cold weather, but cold weather is not a sufficient reason for us to delay or close. Delays and closings for Fireborn will be posted here by 8:30 a.m. for morning classes and 4:30 p.m. for evening classes. We will reschedule if feasible.