My Work Is Featured on Instagram by Skutt Kilns

 

Ceramicscapes featured on Instagram by Skutt Kilns
Ceramicscapes featured on Instagram by Skutt Kilns

I woke up to a flurry of Instagram notifications on Monday morning and was surprised to see that my work is featured on Instagram by Skutt Kilns. The current guest host for Skutt Kilns is Paul Blais, the founder of The Potters Cast.

I’m a total Skutt Kilns fan and user. I purchased my Skutt KM 1027 in 2008 when I first started to outfit my home studio. It’s a power house and has a capacity of 7 cubic feet. Some days it’s too big and during my busy making months it’s not big enough. In the near future, I would like to add an additional kiln to my studio, but can’t decide if it should be bigger or smaller.

Before I upgraded to a digital Skutt Kiln, my first one was a smaller ancient manually operated Paragon kiln that I found on either a free cycle or Yahoo group.  It has a smaller capacity – roughly 3 cubic feet – and worked well for a beginning potter. My advice to beginners looking to equip their studios is to scour Craigslist and similar sites for kilns, wheels, and other studio items. You never know what you’ll find. I also have a small Aim 88T test kiln (shown in the photo below), however, the elements need to be replaced. It has a teeny tiny capacity that is really only suitable for jewelry or test tiles. Although, I have used it to re-fire a mug or two on occasion.

Ceramicscapes - Skutt KM 1027 Kiln in my studio
Ceramicscapes – Skutt KM 1027 Kiln in my studio

Kiln Temperature Firing Ranges

Typically, I bisque fire to ^05 (1914 degrees F) and glaze fire to ^6 oxidation (2232 degrees F). Here’s a link to the Orton Pyrometric Cone Chart for more information on firing temperature ranges and a link to the Orton Ceramic website.

Soda Firing

About 6 times a year, I participate in soda firings at the Colorado Potters Guild with a group of women. The core group of us has been firing the soda kiln together now for about 3 years. The soda kiln at the guild is fueled by gas and has a capacity of nearly 25 cubic feet which we fire to ^10 or 2345 degrees F. Sharing the kiln makes filling, firing and cleaning the kiln a ton easier. I love the process and outcome of soda firings so much that I would love to convert an old electric kiln for home use. 

Typically, I bisque fire my ware in my Skutt KM 1027 before I pack it up and schlep it to the potters guild. 

To give you an idea how we load our soda kiln – also known as a vapor kiln, check out this quick 5 sec. time lapse video.

On Friday, I’ll be sharing another ceramic artist’s profile. It should be a good one!

 

Soda Firing at the Colorado Potters Guild

Waiting to be fired - Ceramicscapes

I really busted my rear last week to make sure that I had close to 50 pots to fire in the soda kiln at the Colorado Potters Guild last week. It was a marathon and I felt like I was in school again cranking, all pistons fired, who needs to sleep to meet a deadline? kind of sprint. I hate to admit it, but I work well under pressure. Anyone else?

What is soda firing? Emily Murphy has a great explanation on her blog.

[Basically] Soda firing is an atmospheric firing technique where “soda” is introduced into the kiln near top temperature (2350°, ∆10). The soda that we use is: sodium bi-carbonate, also know as baking soda (the Arm and Hammer™ kind), and sodium carbonate, which is also known as soda ash.

Wendy spraying soda into the kiln
Wendy spraying soda into the kiln just after ^9 dropped

The soda essentially creates a glazed surface on bisque that is sometimes described as “juicy” after its introduction in the kiln. It’s addicting and wonderfully unpredictable. The surface variations are really unlimited when used on flashing slips, glazes, different decorating techniques like mishima and even the clay body that is chosen. The first time I participated in a soda firing at the guild, I had no idea how to glaze/decorate my work. I didn’t know what to expect. I just knew that I wanted more.

Ceramicscapes Decorated work - not yet glazed
Decorated work – not yet glazed

Over the last 3 years, my work has shifted and I finally have a better idea of how to glaze/decorate my work for the soda firing. I make highly graphic work that is sometimes on the precise side, but when the the soda hits the surface, it can muddle it slightly making the work just a tad more interesting.

 

Ceramicscapes - Soda fired mugs
Ceramicscapes – Soda fired mugs

My challenge now is to continue to develop my surfaces and to find a way to make them interesting after being fired in an electric kiln to cone 6 (2232° F). After the Colorado Potters Guild Fall 2016 sale the first weekend in November, I plan to start some glaze testing. It might be interesting to test out some glazes that have some movement to create a little bit of that unpredictability that I like so much.

Fired work from the soda firing on Oct. 22, 2016 at the Colorado Potters Guild
Fired work from the soda firing on Oct. 22, 2016 at the Colorado Potters Guild

In the meantime, I’m still making work for our sale full speed ahead.