Phase 5: Hearts on Fire… Into the Kiln
1830° is too hot to cook James and Shirley’s peanut butter cookies, but it is the perfect temperature for firing our glazed hearts.
It takes an entire day of carefully orchestrated adjustments to bring the kiln up to that temperature. By the end, a view through a peephole reveals an orange glow reminiscent of the surface of the sun. It then takes another two days to cool so the pieces inside can be removed. Kristine, our Clay/Ceramic Arts instructor says, “It’s like Christmas!” We practically hover around the kiln, checking to see if the temperature has cooled enough to open the lid by another glorious few inches. If we open it too quickly, the fired glaze, which is like glass fused to the clay, may crack and chip. If we open it too slowly… we may die of anticipation.
We know that the pieces will be fantastic, but because the glaze is so chalky looking, the final image is like a secret.
Before going into the kiln, each heart is covered with a clear glaze, which goes on blue. This makes the hearts almost completely anonymous. It’s terrifying, really. After watching everyone who participated in the workshops put such time and attention into their hearts, to then cover them up with 2 layers of BLUE was sometimes difficult. Though it’s the same clear glaze we always use, I repeatedly checked the label on the jug to make sure it said “clear.”
The hearts have gone into the kiln. When it cools, we’ll remove them to see the vibrant color of the formerly chalky glaze, and awesome art of the artists who glazed them.