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Analyzing Firing Problems

Sample firing problem: Black coring appears as a line in the center of the clay cross section. It is due to poor kiln venting.


Analyzing Firing Problems

Reader Response: The creative escape

Recent Q&As: Mayco’s Creative Images on glass

Memorable Quote

A Paragon Story: April Fools’ Day



I have a friend who once fired ceramic angels in a kiln. The blue glaze turned out too light, and my friend was so upset that she wanted to drive her car over the angels. This is a normal reaction to disappointing firing results, especially after you have spent hours on the pieces.

In analyzing a firing problem--whether it is a problem with your kiln or the pieces you fired--get away from the problem and relax. An auto mechanic in Hawaii told me that when he struggled to solve a mechanical problem, he would go away for 15 minutes, drink coffee, and think about something else. When he returned to the problem, the solution often came to him effortlessly. Sleep on the problem. The answer often comes in the morning.

Look for the easiest solution before assuming that it will be expensive or difficult. Sometimes a burned out element can be repaired with just a new element connector.



Ileana Lavender of Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Florida wrote, “I'm a middle school art teacher, fairly new to clay and glass. I wanted to share a quote from one of my students, who stayed late one night. As she was walking out the door, she stopped, took a step back, and said, "Wait ... outside this door is reality." She paused a second and then was ready to go back into the real world. This is what I think art does for most of us.”

Immersing oneself in pottery, glass fusing, or enameling is like an escape. When you return to your daily life, you can face difficulties easier. Frances Darby, the founder of Paragon, told me that ceramics helped people face terrible problems such as the worry over a desperately ill child.



Q. In the last Kiln Pointer, a reader said you could fire decals on glass bottles. Would that include Mayco's Creative Imagines? If so, should they be fired to full fuse?

A. Mayco’s Creative Images are blank decal sheets. You can print your own decals onto the sheets with an HP laser black and white printer. Creative Images are designed for ceramics, but they can also be applied to glass. They survive fusing temperatures. Apply the decal to the top glass surface.



“I love the impossibility of ceramics. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, something bursts my bubble once again. It keeps me humble. It keeps me interested, challenged, enthralled.” --Kelley Webb Randel



In the early 90s, all the Paragon employees came into the office lobby for a group picture. We moved the furniture to clear a space, and I set up the lighting with reflector umbrellas and stands. We even invited the company founder, Frances Darby, for the special photo event. She posed next to the company president, John Hohenshelt Sr. This just happened to be on April Fools’ Day.

I clicked off a roll of 120 film in a Mamiya medium-format camera, which was mounted on a tripod. Then the employees shuffled back to the factory, we moved the furniture, and I removed the lights.

It was only later that day that I realized the film was blank. I knew that without even processing it. I had forgotten that the lens was set at “Mirror Up,” which required tripping the shutter from the lens in addition to the shutter on the camera. I had to call all the employees back to the office and shoot the picture again the next day. Norm, an engineer, thought that this was my private April Fools’ Day joke. He only shook his head when I tried to convince him that it wasn’t.

Thank you,

With best wishes,

Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. – Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd. Mesquite, Texas 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 /

PRIVACY NOTICE: Under no circumstance do we share or sell your email address.

Copyright 2009, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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