Monday, December 16, 2013

a bitter cold soda firing

Last Saturday, through CCA's ceramics program, John Reinking offered a soda firing workshop at his home. A small handful of us came, bundled up, ready to fire as the temperatures dropped into the 30s.

These are some of my pieces from the anagama firing at Peters Valley that didn't make it into the anagama. They already had flashing slips and shino glazes, so I added a little extra glaze for fun and threw them in this kiln.

The very first level is the firebox. Not only is this the floor of the kiln, it is also where the heat sources enter the kiln. This means anything sitting within the "fire box" will be hit with the most heat, flame, wood ash and soda. It's a risky place in the kiln; work will either come out wrecked or beautiful.

After the firebox is filled with brave little pots, we begin to build up the levels of the kiln with stilts and shelves. Placement of the piece in the kiln may be considered, as flame will travel in certain paths, dropping soda and ash on pots a sit passes through the kiln.

The highest level in this kiln. A column of stilts are places in the center for the damper. The damper will help hold heat in the kiln.

John carefully builds a chimney out of bricks.

While we waited for the soda kiln to reach temperature, some students fired raku. It was so nice to have an extra heat source around each time this kiln was lifted.....

Warming pots on top of the raku kiln so they are less likely to explode from temperature changes inside the kiln.

Some of John's sculptures sitting on a bed of sawdust after being pulled from the raku kiln.

When the kiln finally creeped into the 2000F range, we started adding wood and soda. Flames began to reach out of the chimney, and we spent pretty much the last two hours of the firing huddled around the kiln for warmth. I think by the time we wrapped up, it was below 30F. That is cold!

It was a hot kiln and some cold weather. I'm very excited to see my pieces. I missed the unloading due to work, but I'm told my stuff, as well as everyone else's pieces, came out pretty nice. That will be saved for another post!

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