FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions
We hope this helps

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to the questions we receive the most.

However, this section is by no means a substitute for reading the “Current Student”, “Help”, and “Blog” pages of our website.

Fireborn Studios does not offer make-up classes during another regularly scheduled morning or evening class. If you wish to get in more studio time consider signing up for a Saturday Open Studio. 

Note: You must be signed up to attend.

Go to Open Studio page

For weeks 1 through 6, it takes two weeks for your pots to get bisque-fired and be ready to glaze. For weeks 7 and 8, the turnaround time for bisqueware is one week. 

We fire as soon as the glaze kiln is full. It is usually 3 to 4 weeks between glaze firings. Taped onto the door of the glaze kiln is a note showing how full the kiln is at this moment. That should help you to guesstimate. 

Also, on the wall to the right of the kiln is a calendar with the dates of previous firings circled. 

Additionally, there is a post you can read. See Post

They could have been loaded into the glaze kiln, and are waiting to be fired. If they were fired, they could be in the glaze room, or, if a few weeks have passed since the firing, they may have been moved upstairs by the washing machine. If a really long time has passed since they were fired, they may have been discarded. We send emails and post information about firings. Read More.

Timing is critical. Pots need to be medium leather hard, not too stiff. If you mug is turning white on top and not wiggly like stiff leather, then your handles are unlikely to stick. Also there are issues with shrinkage and memory. Those topics are complicated. See the next two FAQ responses in this page.

If you have noticed that the giant mug you made shrunk to the size of a shot glass, you know about shrinkage. If a handle didn’t stick, that is because of shrinkage, too. Our clay shrinks 8% as it dries and another 8% in the glaze firing. 

When you attach a handle, the pot and the handle need to shrink together or else the handle won’t stick. They need to have approximately the same moisture level. That means the pot should be medium leather hard or wetter, and the handle should be fresh but not too soggy to medium leather hard. Soggy handles won’t hold their shape and will have excessive shrinkage because of their excessive water content. There are tight parameters here and experience is required to get it right. Beginners have difficulty making these subtle judgments. Have you instructor give you feedback.

Well, it doesn’t have a brain, but what we are talking about is the way clay warps or moves when it dries. The best analogy is bending a steel rod. When you bend it a little, it will spring back to straight again. If you want it hold the bend, you need to bend it extra far and see how much it flexes back when you release the tension. Physically, that has to do with crystals in the steel sliding and repositioning themselves. 

Clay is similar. There are lots of  microscopic flat particles aligned flat side to flat side, and held together by the surface tension of water in the clay. The particles slide against each other when you throw a pot or pull a handle. When you bend a handle and stick it to a pot, it “wants to unbend, or straighten out”. That can cause the handle to pull away from the mug at the weakest points of attachment. 

As clay dries, any stress it holds from being previously bent will make it “want to unbend”.

Please excuse the teleological explanation. Clay is mindless. 

Classes have been filling months in advance. Try doing these things.

  1. Be sure you are on our mailing list so you received emails when classes are posted. To sign up for our mailing list, Click Here.
  2. Current students should check their email regularly and sign up promptly when emails go out about new classes.
  3. If the class you want is full, please send us an email to donna57@fireborn.com requesting to be put on the waiting list. 

The 1,000 (or 10,000) Rule does apply, however so does the following:

  1. Read and research. Learn everything you can from books and videos about the process and technical side of the craft/art of pottery making. The resources are readily available. There are lots of links and a reading list on our website. Probably more than you will ever use, but still just a fraction of what’s out there. 
  2. Use the suggestions on our “Help” page, and other resources on this website. Our website is searchable from the home page. 
  3. Pay attention in class. Don’t let those pearls of wisdom your instructor tosses out fall to the ground. 
  4. Attend workshops or take a private lesson. 
  5. Practice, practice practice. (the 10,000 Rule again).

Centering is more about finesse and technique, than about strength. 

First of all, you will never be able to center (or make a good pot for that matter) if your clay is not prepped well. It needs to be 1. the right firmness (which depends on what you want to make) and 2. it needs to be well wedged. 

Clay for small bowls and plates can be relatively soft. Clay for a tall vase must be relatively firm, so it is strong and won’t collapse. 

Let’s start with well prepped clay. Wedge it. Wedging does many things to prep the clay.

  1. It informs you of the condition of your clay and how best it can be used, like “this clay is too soft to make a tall vase”.
  2. It blends your clay to a homogeneous or uniform consistency, getting rid of lumps.
  3. It “loosens up” or softens the clay. Clay is thixotropic. 
  4. It removes air bubbles from the clay. This assumes you are wedging correctly. Otherwise you may be adding air bubbles. 
  5. Prolonged wedging on a plaster surface will dry out your clay because the plaster absorbs moisture from the clay.
  6. It aligns all the microscopic particles, flat side to flat side, thus increasing plasticity.
 
Well-wedged clay is a dream to work with. Poorly wedged or unwedged clay seems to be possessed by a devil. 
 
Now for technmique:

Keep you elbows in. Tuck into the T-Rex position.

Sit close to the wheel. Lean into the pot. Get your nose over the center of the wheel. Use your weight, not just strength. 

Drop your left shoulder and anchor your forearm on your thigh and hip.

First center the bottom, then the middle, then the top.

Cone.

Practice, practice practice!