News Pulse - State University of New York at New Paltz

Class builds Ceramics Department kiln

Photo(From left to right) Provost David Lavallee, students Maria Alfaro and Mikhael Benson, kiln class instructor Graham Yeager, Ceramics professors Mary Roehm and Anat Shiftan, and adjunct instructor Aimee Schuler.

During Summer Session I, Maria Alfaro ’07g (Ceramics), Mikhael Benson’08g (Ceramics), Nicole Borek (Pre-major, Art Ed.), Courtney Clark ’08 (Visual Arts Ed., Ceramics) and Andrew Latini ’(Pre-major, Art Ed.) built a soft brick, soda kiln under the direction of ceramics technician Graham Yeager.

From May 24 to June 28, the class met Monday through Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

The students deconstructed an old kiln on the site, leveled the ground and built the new kiln from the ground up. The skills they were exposed to throughout the process covered a variety of areas, including electrical wiring, metal work and carpentry.

“Whenever you have the chance to get students to use their hands, they take these skills and experiences with them to use later in their careers,” said Yeager.

Yeager said the students were ready to work and had a lot of knowledge to share. He said the graduate students were eager to work with the undergraduates and share their excitement about the project.

“It is a rare opportunity in a university setting to have this level of collaboration,” said Yeager.

Working as a group was not only essential to get the job done, but it also counted as 50 percent of the grade. The kiln, which is located outside the Fine Arts Building, cost about $5,000 in materials, which was covered by Summer Session fees.

Yeager said that having an outside company install a new kiln would have cost the department $30,000.

The students also gained experience in researching and designing their own kilns. “I think that in ceramics, being involved in the whole process is vital to ownership of the results,” said graduate student Alfaro.

The class has ended, but Yeager is prepping the kiln for its first firing, which is scheduled to take place before the start of the fall semester.

The finished Kiln

JULY 31, 2006
Volume 4, Issue 14

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