Soda-fired Urn with mason stain brush work.

Soda-fired Urn with mason stain brush work.

I had part of a weekend free, so I signed up late to a BPG Soda Firing Workshop with Don Cox and Caroline Douglas. The event took place Nov 21, 22 and 24 (in the morning). I only had a couple pieces on the shelf that were bisqued and ready to go, but it’s my nature to learn and re-learn.

“Soda firing has been touted as modern-day nontoxic replacement for salt firing. In the soda firing process, soda ash (sodium carbonate) in water solution, instead of salt, is sprayed into kiln at maturing temperature, and sodium vapor combines with silica in clay to form sodium-silicate glaze.”1

The workshop’s instructors used a different “plaster” method attributed to Gail Nichols, using a mixed batter of soda and placing it directly in the firebox and at the bottom of the kiln sides. The recipe we used was slightly different than her recipe: 25% Baking Soda, 25% Soda Ash, and 50% Whiting. The dry ingredients were mixed with hot water and settled to a consistency of stiff plaster.

Day one was set up for discussion on glazing techniques and expected results, glazing and loading the kiln. Day two was for firing, and creative studio time with demos by the instructors. Day three, was the exciting reveal – unloading and discussing the results – and of course, clean-up.

The links above will take you to galleries of the event, and I believe they illustrate part of the creative process involved in the ceramic arts.

While I didn’t participate as fully as I would have liked (other than chowing down on potluck offerings), my opinion is that it’s important for an artist to continue the trudge up the ever-expanding learning curve. I find value in any and all creative interaction and gain insight and ideas from my peers. There’s a satisfaction in gaining as much knowledge about the art/science of this medium. And yet, trusting the process of any firing method provides an excited anticipation and payoff that’s comparable to opening gifts.

Which reminds me. . . this is my opportunity to extend holiday greetings to any and all who may read this.

Soda-fired bowl. Altered, porcelain slip rim on B-mix clay body with mason stain brush work.

Soda-fired bowl. Altered, porcelain slip rim on B-mix clay body with mason stain brush work.








1 Source: Ceramic Arts Daily

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