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Why Soda Firing

The pots in a soda kiln usually don’t have much glaze on the outsides of them, they are glazed by the introduction on soda ash, which volatiles when it hits the flame and creates a glaze. The flame then carries the soda ash through the kiln and the pots become glazed wherever the flame and soda kiss the pots.

Here you see me spraying the soda ash which is mixed with boiling water, into the kiln at about 2200 degrees.

 The results can be greatly varied with this type of firing. For me, that's a big part of the fun of it. You never know with 100% certainty, what you will get from the kilns.

This pot shows where the glaze hit the surface and really added a nice difference in appearance. The green you see is a spearmint glaze that I used inside the pot and along the rim. The soda mixed with that glaze and made it very dark, almost black in some spots and almost white in others. You can also see where it kissed the shoulder of the vessel and the handles. The orange color is from a flas…

Collaboration With The Kiln

One of the joys of wood firing is how the kiln decorates our pots. I don't like to use too much glaze on any pots that I'm putting in the anagama kiln because I really enjoy how the decoration from the flame treats the surfaces. It tells a story about what has happened in the kiln. I love that story.

In this most recent firing at Roger Jamison's, I made pots from some porcelain that was given to me. I have rarely used porcelain, I usually work with stoneware clays and they are rather different materials. They feel different when they are thrown, they dry differently, and they look different once they are fired. Porcelain is a beautiful white that can be so thin it's translucent. I can throw thin, but not that thin.

Ceramic Wood Fired Porcelain Vase by Lori Buff
Wood Fired Porcelain

I think I may have thrown some of these pots a little too thin, they moved in the kiln. I can picture them dancing in the heat. After the firing, someone said, "I'm sorry about what happened to your porcelain." The thing is, I find them quite beautiful. I'm reminded that this piece of pottery, that is now rock hard, was very soft and malleable a few times in its life. I feel like these pots have lots of motion in them that many of my other pots don't have. I love them and they are giving me something to think about.

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