In the past few years Sam and I have become interested in soda firing a portion of our pottery. The process is layered and time consuming, but the results have been totally worth it, even if we rarely know what will happen!
To prepare for the firing I glaze the inside of my pots and stain the exterior, each piece must also be wadded (a rough mixture of clay and sawdust) in order to keep the pots from sticking to the shelves. We get creative with the stacking; sometimes bowls look like UFO's in order to keep any kiln junk from falling into the inside.
Loading the kiln takes some patience, besides making sure nothing is touching the shelves, we must also be aware of how close the pieces are in order to create optimal air and flame movement. This is a gas fired kiln and when it is nearly to temperature a soda ash solution is injected into the kiln. This solution sticks to the very hot pots reacting to the surface and also creating a glaze.
The results after firing are never what we expect, yet that is something we have both grown to really love! We started out calling these our "second chance pots." Drawing and painting underglaze onto the surface of pots that were rather ho-hum and then firing them again in an electric kiln gave them new life. Sam reacts to the atmospheric affects and draws monsters, UFO's and animals while I react to the surfaces with stars and houses and linear patterns.
After this final firing the pots look much more interesting, with layers we could not have planned.
Lots of work... totally worth it!