Well guys here’s what's going on. I finished my MFA in Ceramics at the University of North Texas this May and have happily returned to the mountains of North Carolina where I grew up. I am getting set up in the family studio but the one thing I can’t do anything without is my very own soda kiln.
During my time in Texas I absolutely fell in love with soda firing. Soda firing is a technique where during the firing I dissolve soda ash into water and spray it into the kiln. The soda boils away into vapor and reacts with the silica in the clay to make a glaze on the surface of the pots. Because the soda vapor is carried through the kiln on the flame no two pieces ever look exactly the same. The dynamic flashing on the surface and iconic orange peel texture are all a product of the soda.
I need your help to build this kiln
Below are some images of the kiln I was firing at UNT on which my kiln will be modeled on. I plan to lower the floor and raise the roof a few brick higher so I can step into the interior to load instead of having to crawl on my knees.
What will reaching the goal be paying for?
• A 10x20 kiln shed that will be the happy home of the kiln which includes pouring a slab to build on as well as a tin roof to keep me dry
• The brick to build the kiln and the steel to reinforce it
• The burners, gauges, and gas fittings to be able to fire
• Running the gas pipe from the tank over to the kiln
• A set of 20 high alumina shelves and all the posts and kiln furniture needed to load it up
We've already started building the kiln shed with some existing lumber.
The time line is basically as quickly as humanly possible while working around our standing obligations of shows etc. I hope to fire it for the first time in early August. After that the rest will go fairly quickly as I am already making pots to fill it as soon as it is built.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my project and thanks for the support!
Below is my artists statement to give you a better idea of who I am and what my work is all about.
I grew up in the mountains of North Carolina in my father’s pottery studio.I was lucky to be immersed in a thriving community of craftsmen who worked in a wide variety of materials and techniques.My father made every dish I ate off of growing up, his best friend made the stained glass window in our living room and the lamp over our dining room table.Another friend made our bathroom sink, and we collected onion skins for another who specialized in natural dyeing.We personally knew the artist of each and every piece on our walls.This rich community of craftsmen greatly shaped how I have come to approach my own work.
Pottery is very much about the physical interaction with the ceramic object, the balance of a piece in the hand, subtle texture over the surface and how the hand will find and experience these areas in a very direct way.Through my graduate studies I have transitioned into solely soda fired surfaces as I am fascinated by the vapor surface and the lack of complete control I have over the finished surface.This innate mark making that the kiln creates has led me to a very organic collaboration with the kiln itself.I focus on clean forms with edges that provide a blank canvas for my stamping and for the vapor to flash across and interact with.I am interested in how the regimented linear geometric patterns and the repetition of my stamps contrast with and accentuate the curves of the thrown form as well as the organic shapes left by the caress of the soda vapor.My stamped patterns are built from a single small triangular element.My goal in the repetition of this single element is for the individual stamp to disappear into the larger rhythms of the pattern.Each element is individually stamped so that the pattern can stretch and articulate around the curves of any form.Though the stamping itself is the dominant decorative element, I am also delighted by the negative space created by offsetting the patterning so it locks together and creates a dynamic parallel of the pattern in the negative space between rows.My stamps are hand carved from clay and bisque fired so I can rapidly carve new variations and experiment with how the scale and motif affect the overall design of the vessel.These areas of stamping are delineated and framed by a linear element on one side and a solid black saddle on the other.The linear marking on the surface is loosely mirror imaged on the opposite facing side of the pot creating a distinct left and right side to each piece.Due to the rather deep impressions I create with the physical act of stamping the inside surface of the vessel bears an echo of the patterning on the exterior.The glaze palate I now use accentuates and breaks across these markings on the interior.I use a solely matt glaze palate as the introduction of soda creates glossy areas and beautiful fading between the two surface qualities.I favor a cool color palate ad a contrast to the warm earthy surface that the flashing slip surface provides so there is always a distinct transition between the glazed and unglazed surfaces.
A mug sitting on a clean white pedestal is a dead thing to me.Pottery was never the untouched piece on the top shelf of the china cabinet; it was the much loved mug that you dig for every morning because the coffee just tastes better out of that specific one.I strive for my work to have that same immediacy of being handled or interacted with every day of the owner’s life.My greatest wish is for each piece to invite the viewer to pick it up, touch it, feel it, see how it fits in the hand, converse with it on the most intimate level, skin to skin.
Risks and challenges
I'm lucky to have a community of potters and my very own dad as sources of information and assistance on the project.
The usual building setbacks and injuries are basic risks when taking on a physical project of this sort. If anything happens to set back progress I will promptly keep everyone involved up to date.
- (30 days)