Slipped, Altered, and Soda Fired Pottery with Brenda Lichman

soda fired pottery

For Brenda Lichman, form and surface go hand in hand. She accentuates her soft, simple soda fired pottery with thick porcelain slip and then further accentuates the volume by pushing out from the inside. The results are forms that almost look like they have been frozen mid-motion before being soda fired.

In today’s post, an excerpt from the Ceramics Monthly archives, Brenda explains this process. – Jennifer Poellot Harnetty, editor.

Create Soft Surfaces for Soda Fired Pottery

My soda fired pottery begins on the wheel. Simple forms are thrown with a soft, feminine profile focusing on accentuating the belly or the hip of the pot. This is where I want to create the most sense of volume and strength in the form.

I accent the form with a thickly applied porcelain slip. The slip is a porcelain clay body that is watered down to a thick, yogurt-like consistency, then passed through a 60-mesh screen to improve the texture and flow.

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The slip is applied to the form using a Mudtools rib (specifically the red Shape 4, polymer rib, which has the corner point and creates a crisp line under the thick line of slip). I apply the slip with a quick, confident gesture as I move the rib up the form, in a similar way to some slip trailing techniques, but with a rib (1). There is a slight pause when I lift the rib to create a thick luscious drip in the middle of the line, encouraging fluid contours along the pot.

soda fired pottery

soda fired potteryI work on a banding wheel, which helps me to move around the form with a direct and intentional speed in my gesture (2). After the slip is applied, I use the lines as a type of grid or base for my altering. I first alter the belly by pushing out the form with my finger between each slip line (3). I am looking for a constant interaction between form and surface by pushing the form out through the surface lines. This process creates a sense of volume that celebrates generosity and strength. I then alter the lip of the form by pinching, pulling, and stretching the clay in an upward motion between the slip lines (4). This creates an undulating lip that accentuates the areas of the volume that were previously pushed outward (5).

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When glazing for the soda kiln, I feel my forms are best enhanced with sprayed flashing slips. The spraying gives me a chance to accent the pushed out areas of the form by layering the flashing slips in a circular motion. The push outs are highlighted slightly through this process and then are enhanced in the soda firing as well (6). I do not leave it up to the soda kiln to do the magic; I set my soda fired pottery up for as much success as possible.

**First published in 2014
  • Karmien B.

    I have tried it when Brenda came to Tarrant County College to present her 2008 workshop in Ft. Worth. Titanium Butter is clear in cone 10 reduction .
    Brenda shared that she tries to put seven personal details in a cup,that can serve to identify it as her cup. I first saw her work at the Ice House in Oak Cliff, Texas during the “Straight Clay” show for the National Women’s Caucus for the Arts in 2008, where her warm buttery golden surfaces enticed touching and begged to be taken home to the dinner table.

  • Have you tried this glaze in a simple come 10 reduction firing?

  • H.

    Thanks for pointing that out Lew! The images weren’t linked properly. We fixed it and now they will enlarge! 🙂
    -Jennifer Harnetty, ed.

  • This article would be much better if images were larger. Can’t click and view a larger image.

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