Point of View
A Teacher’s Education in Kilns
in which I could make
pottery in my after-
photographed more than fifty differ-
school hours, and with
the gift of the endow-
ment, I could make it
I have taken classes
in ceramics for the past
six years, but I have
always wanted to be in
control of all aspects of
Building My Own Kiln
Upon returning home, I finalized my
plans and began building. I built a
twenty-five cubic foot downdraft kiln
with two venturi burners in the back
for gas reduction firing. The construc-
tion went remarkably well, and I was
determined to lay every brick myself.
the process from mixing My husband Gregg built the kiln shed
the glazes to firing. In
around me as I built the kiln.
workshops at Arrow-
I had hoped to fire the kiln shortly
mont School of Arts and after its construction, but handling
Crafts, in Gatlinburg,
Linda Christianson and
Gay Smith told of their
experiences of build-
ing kilns. If these two
women could do it, why
propane gas at 2300°F can be intimi-
dating. My teacher John Peterson let
me assist him through a couple of his
firings to help put my mind at ease.
He taught me about gas pressure,
gauging the flame’s color and length,
and operating the damper.
On firing day, the cones went
down in ten hours, and I closed all
My Lilly Endowment
proposal involved visit-
ing a variety of different
the openings for a two-day cooling
period. The results were better than
what I had hoped for. I successfully
fired more than one hundred pieces.
artists, seeing and talk-
ing about their kilns,
As I look back on the past two years
What is it that motivates teachers and helps them stay connected in the classroom? Art
and firing, and determining which
of planning and implementing my
kiln was best for me.
project, I see a tremendous amount of
I enrolled in a glaze chemistry/
growth in my artistry and revitaliza-
kiln building course at Ball State Uni- tion in my teaching. I’ve enjoyed my
teachers face a particularly difficult
versity and continued to study with
eighteen years in the classroom, but
task when, after years of creating art, John Peterson, a local potter with
all teachers hit periods where they
they enter the classroom and often
forty years of experience.
need a boost to keep them going.
stop making art.
I am so grateful to have had this
They now make
My Lilly Endowment
opportunity, and I know the impact
artists instead of
with a trip to proposal involved visiting
of this work will stay with me for the
being artists. What North Carolina, a variety of artists, seeing
rest of my teaching career and into
happens when that where I inter- and talking about their kilns,
to break down?
viewed Gay discussing construction and
firing, and determining
my retirement. I have benefited, but
I believe my students are the greatest
recipients of my work. They are the
reason I do what I do, and I have so
teachers are given Lindsay, and Kent much more to offer them with years which kiln was best for me.
of new research before me.
through the Lilly Endowment to cre-
ate a professional development expe-
rience that keeps them motivated. I
dreamed of creating an environment
North Carolina was followed by a
week at Arrowmont.
In all, I visited more than forty
studios, galleries, and art schools and
Carol Burt is an art teacher at Sutton
Elementary School in Muncie, Indiana.