Tag Archives: Ceramics Monthly

Resources for Soda Firing

I thought that it would be fun to try to round up as many online resources for folks who are interested in soda firing and put it together into one handy post. Since there isn’t that much publish (relatively speaking), I think it has the possibility of being relatively comprehensive. I hope you enjoy reading the results of my research as much as I did!

Online Soda Groups:

Salt/Soda Firing Discussion Group

You might remember this site that is all about Salt and Soda firing that I wrote about a while back. It’s a social networking site for all people interested in these firing processes. There are some fantastic potters and sculptors that are a part of this site as well as students who are just beginning to dabbling in soda. I highly encourage you to dive in- sign up and make a page. The more the merrier (don’t be shy if you’re just beginning in soda!) There are recipes for slips and glazes as well as a forum for putting questions out there. Are you thinking about converting an old electric kiln into a soda kiln? There’s a discussion going on here for you. And this site is always evolving- it’ll be whatever the members make it.

Salt & Soda tags on the ClayArt archives on Potters.org. It’s worth digging into. It’s quite possible that someone else had the same exact question as you 8 months ago.

Blogs that focus on soda firing:
(I had to draw a line somewhere… so I drew it at soda firing bloggers. If I’m missing any, please let me know!)

Of course there is this blog, PotteryBlog.com. About 95% of my pots are soda fired, and I try to share with you interesting soda information. Soon I’ll be posting a whole bunch of information about the use of whiting in my soda mix (the soda geeks will be psyched for this one!)
Here are some posts that you might find extra interesting if you’re a soda firing fool:
What is Soda Firing
A Happy Soda Firing
Hot Pots 

Julie Rozman, a fellow Lillstreeter, also writes a blog, Design Realized. She shares a lot of her glaze testing and firing info on her site. You should be sure to check it out!

Scott Cooper makes beautiful wood & soda fired pots. He also writes about his work and process in his journal, This Week @ St. Earth. You should also be sure to check out his “process” page where he has tons of information that is interesting and helpful.

 

Keith Kreeger makes salt/soda fired pots at his studio/gallery on Cape Code (although he has been venturing into earthenware lately). You can learn more about his soda work on his blog, Kreeger Pottery Blog.

I just discovered Joy Tanner’s Blog. I’ve gotten to know Joy’s work through the Salt/Soda group and I’ve excited that there is another soda firer writing a blog!

Websites that have a wealth of soda info on them:
(These are sites that have information on them about soda firing- kiln info, recipes, etc…)

  • Julia Galloway’s Alchemy page. Julia generously shares with her information on cone 6 soda firing, including slip and glaze recipes.
  • Scott Cooper (as mentioned above) has a great process page with tons of information on kiln building, glaze recipes and even clay recipes. Not to mention some beautiful pots!
  • Robbie Lobell makes beautiful, elegant soda fired ovenware and tableware. He has a page on his site about his kiln and soda firing process. He lives in Coupeville, WA mentions on his site that he will rent out 1/4, 1/2 or the whole kiln to experienced firers.

Books on Soda Firing:

Soda, Clay and Fire by Gail Nichols is a must have for anyone interested in firing with soda. This book is the culmination of Gail’s PhD work in soda firing in Material Science at Monash University in Gippland, Victoria, Austrailia. The research is incredible and it’s an easy read. Two things that don’t always go together so easily. I think if you picked up this book knowing clay, but not knowing soda, you might decide that you need to start soda firing by the end. But I’m a bit biased on these things. You can also learn a bit more about this book here.

Ruthanne Tudball’s book, Soda Glazing is the original text on soda firing. There has been so little actually published on soda (especially in comparison to other firing techniques) because of the youthfulness of the process. This is a book that I kept close to me for many years. There are overviews of different potters and their soda approaches as well as a great index of glaze, slip and clay recipes. Again, this is a book that you need to have on your bookshelf if you’re making soda fired work.

Online articles about soda firing:

Videos about soda firing:
(if you’re reading this through your email or a blog reader, you’ll won’t see the videos below. Just head over to Pottery Blog to see the videos)

From Pottery Northwest:


And a series of 3 informative videos from
Jeffrey Huebner:



I really have enjoyed this. Please send me links to things that you think might be missing from here and I’ll keep updating this post. This was a big project and I had to put some sort of limits on it. I decided not to include links to soda firing potters & sculptors in this post. I know that there a ton out there with great websites, but I thought I’d limit it to sites that had technical information on it. Another post will be soda firing ceramicists. That will be fun ; ) If you want to give me a hand with that, just leave a comment with suggestions for me to include. Just remember: folks who fire with*soda* or *soda/salt,* but not just salt.

Ask a Potter: Photography

I regularly get questions emailed to me about clay, kilns, the business of clay, etc… I have decided to start a series “Ask a Potter” where I answer some of these questions on PotteryBlog.com that I think will be interesting and helpful to other readers. Please feel free to share your 2 cents and join in on the dialog!
———————–

Who takes your photos? What kind of camera do you use?
-Diane in Georgia

My “professional” images are taken by Guy Nicol in Chicago.
His studio is also at Lillstreet Studios. If you’re not in the Chicago area, don’t let that stop you, you can ship your work to him.
I have been using Guy for my photos for the last 7 years, and his work is amazing. He specializes in studio arts such as ceramics, jewelry, fibers, etc… I’ve used the images he taken to apply to shows as well as promotional materials (postcards, business cards, etc…). Some of Guy’s images of my work published in exhibition catalogs, 500 Cups (2 images), 500 Pitchers (2 images) and Ceramics Monthly. 

Some examples of photos that Guy has taken for me recently:

 

I do take lots of photos myself that are posted on this blog. I got a new digital camera early last fall, the Canon PowerShot A570 and I’ve been really happy with it. 

I would say the photos that I take myself fall into 3 categories – personal, studio shots/ works in progress, and images for online selling. I’ve been dabbling in online selling for a while trying to figure out what outlet I think is best. I’m finally ready to jump into the Etsy pool (more on that to come!) and easy, high quality photos are a necessity.

Below are some photos that I have taken with my digital camera:

A Potter’s Mark: Signing Pots

I just got a new stamp with my signature to sign the bottoms of my pots with. I ordered the stamp at NCECA, and it arrived in the mail last week. Todd Scholtz, owner of claystamps.com was set up at the Brackers Good Earth Clay, Inc booth.

He had me sign a piece of paper to get the right signature. I think that I wrote it about 40 times to get the feel and look that is most consistent with how I usually sign my work. The 10th signature ended up being the one that I used.

He then scanned the chosen signature into a computer and resized to my specifications. He then engraved the stamp and added a nice wooden handle. I am really happy with the results. It stamps beautifully- wet, leather hard, and even a little past leather hard all come out clearly and easily. If I want another stamp- smaller or larger, I can have the same signature, just resized. If you have some other sort of mark, it would work as well- whether you have it as a digital image already, or you have Todd scan it in for you.

I’ve tried to figure out a good signature stamp for years. I don’t like the chunkiness of a clay stamp for my signature, and the fragility always worried me. Rubber stamps are easy to have made, but they aren’t deep enough or firm enough for stamping the bottom of a trimmed, leather hard piece. This stamp seems to be a good alternative.
Take a look at the results:

The flashing from the soda kiln on the bottom of this plate could not have been any more picture perfect!

I have always felt that it is important for me to sign my work. Here are some thoughts on signing or not signing pots…

  • It is an historical record of the maker. There are lots of books about the marks on old pots. I’m not saying that my mark is going to end up in a book, but the idea of being able to figure out who made a pot, a print or a painting is still interesting to me. Having a clear and identifiable signature would make that much easier.
  • I own several pots by different potters that aren’t signed (or it’s hard to make out). When I bought them, I remembered clearly who made them, but as time has passed, some of those names have left me. If I wanted more work by the same artist, I’d sort of have to wait to come upon it again at a gallery.
  • Ceramics Monthly has started including the stamp or mark of each of the ceramic artists that are featured in their magazine. This seems to be some sort of recognition of the importance of the stamp even in contemporary ceramics (as opposed to the historical documentation that I talked about above).
  • The Potter’s Council is asking for potter’s to send in their marks to create an archive of stamps and signatures. They can be sent to: Jennifer Poellet, 735 Ceramic Place, Suite 100, Westerville, OH, 43081.
  • Over time my signature or stamp have changed and evolved. All clearly are by the same maker, but it is a way that I can sort of “date” my pieces, without actually recording a date on them.
  • I come from a family of artists, and the bold signature of MURPHY is something of a common occurrence on our work. Here is my dad’s signature (Jim Murphy) from one of his paintings:

I think that this blog entry will be the first of many about signing work. There is much more to talk about. I’d love to hear your ideas about signing or not signing pottery, or what your method is.

If you’d like to sign up for the Pottery Blog mailing list, go here. You’ll get automatic emails when I write and post a new entry. As always, it is a private mailing list- no information will ever be shared!