Saturday, March 5, 2016

Exploring The Magical Soda Kiln: Vol II

With NECEA 2016 just around the corner, Bob Schultz, Veronica Watkins, and I decided that we might want to have at least one more firing of the soda kiln before North On 71 opens

So I 'borrowed' some of Bob's magical slip and poured it over/across several of my pieces (one of which I'm hoping to make the face on a statue of liberty sculpture I am making (more on that later.....)).

After we glazed our pieces/ware it was time to load the soda kiln....unfortunately we had missed the hours of sunlight, so we had to load in the dark, which now that I think about it, has happened to us with every firing we have done so far this year.

A shot of Bob Schultz installing a freshly kiln washed shelf into the kiln.  Bob does the brain surgery-type work, I slather kiln wash on the shelves.  I guess water does find its own level.....

Once the work is all loaded, we spend about a half an hour building a door out of kiln bricks (complete with portals so we can check temperature, remove test rings, toss in soda burritos, and spray in a soda ash mixture).

It was windy that night, and since we didn't want the gas blowers to be blown out by the wind, we waited 24 hours to start-up the kiln.  The next night we fired it up and let it 'candle' over night (candle = low flame which allows the kiln/ware to slowly warm up)  About 20 hours later, we had the kiln up to temperature and it was time to add the burritos and spray in soda ash.

Below is an example of one of the saw dust, and baking soda burritos we would tuck into one of our portals -which would now belch out flame when we opened them....... this!

A shot of Bob Schultz spraying our soda ash mixture into the kiln right next to the burners.  He frequently has to remove the sprayer so the soldiered joints don't melt and the spray tip fall off into the kiln.

Veronica Watkins about to perform the 'Burrito Maneuver'

Now she's about to jam a glowing hot brick back into the kiln to seal up the portal.

We also would occasionally add small chunks of wood to make the kiln environment smokey (reduction) which affects how the pieces will look once removed from the kiln.

Obviously, if combustible materials are being jammed into a 2200+ degree fire source, I gotsta get me some of this action too!

Occasionally we would fish out one of our ceramic test rings to see what results we were achieving inside the kiln.


After all the soda was put in the kiln, we let it burn for about another half an hour and then shut off the burners, closed the damper, and let the whole mess cool down for the next 36 hours.

We fired on Wednesday and I opened the kiln first thing Friday morning once the ware had cooled down enough to be handled.

Brick-by-brick, I deconstructed the door.......

....slowly revealing the pieces inside.........

.....until the door was a neatly stacked pile of bricks awaiting their next mission.

Now for the results.

Here's some of my work post soda fire.....

There's a little over a week to go until North On 71 opens.  We have walls to construct, kilns to fire, work to transport, and artist's profiles to post.  Stay tuned!


  1. This really let's you see what goes into this ceramic stuff (read "crafty") I take for granted. There is definitely a fine art to it.

  2. Wonderfully done, both the Art and the explanation!! Saweet!! Or should I say Saaaallllty!