Published Jul 3, 2013
Atmospheric firing is really exciting because you can continue to influence the surfaces of your pots all the way through the firing process. Plus there's always an element of surprise when the kiln is unloaded.
In today's post, an excerpt from Soda, Clay, and Fire, Gail Nichols gives pointers on how to get great effects on your soda fired pots by creative kiln loading. Some of these techniques could be helpful in wood and salt firing as well. - Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor
Be prepared to spend time with the loading, considering the implications for the placement of each piece in the kiln. How does it sit in relation to the path of flame and soda vapor? Which side of a pot will receive the heaviest glaze? Is there another pot near it that will block the flame and vapor? If so, what is the shape and direction of the shadow? Can the vapor penetrate the pack to reach pots in the center of the chamber? Where are the wads arranged on each pot, and how will their marks relate to the form and the glazed surface.
To learn about loading a kiln for directional atmospheric effects, it is worth consulting the wood-firing literature and wood firers themselves, but bear in mind that soda has its own characteristics. Experts in other firing styles may provide some clues, but they cannot be relied upon to solve problems with soda glazing, even in the case of a wood-fired soda kiln. It is important to read, listen and observe, then translate the findings into a soda glaze scenario.