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PHEBESS
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The kiln is a microcosm of me

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Esoteric, I know. Perhaps far-fetched. Somewhat existential? I'm not sure.

But I had a bit of an epiphany this morning, and I thought I'd share it.

This week, I'm firing the few pieces of ceramics that weren't dry enough to fire in December. Some of my students made items that were very thick and heavy, and the objects needed more time to dry completely before firing. (Otherwise I can guarantee breakage.) So the students agreed they could wait until we started school again.

After I had the kiln partly loaded, two students found bowls they had made but wrapped in plastic - so that these bowls needed additional drying time. These two items are what I fired today.

Now, firing a kiln is somewhat counter-intuitive. The smaller the load, the quicker the firing. Weird, isn't it? I always forget this, and think that a large load of items will hold the heat and therefore fire more quickly - although cool down more slowly. No, the emptier the kiln, the faster the firing. Today's firing of two items only took 3.5 hours to reach 1855 F. And that's taking the heat up as slowly as I normally do - one number on each dial every half hour.

Think about this. The smaller the kiln load, the quicker the firing. The more efficient use of energy. The smaller amount of fuel. The speedier it goes.

See the analogy?

I'm the kiln. The smaller I am, the less fuel I need. Because my smaller body will use the fuel more efficiently. And will utilize the food more efficiently. That smaller body needs less energy to do the same amount of work. And, it's speedier. Faster.

I started thinking about how a smaller body - my currently smaller body, although not as small as I'd like - is using fewer resources: less food, less fabric to clothe it, less gasoline to drive around. My smaller body is not only energy-efficient, it is better for the environment! For the whole world!

It was just one of those revelations. The kind of thinking that will spur me on to do better, lose more, stay in shape, and continue to become more and more energy efficient.
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