Soda, Clay and Fire

Soda glazing is a relatively new development in ceramic history, with exciting scope for research and experimentation. It’s a more...(Scroll for more.)

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Softcover | 156 Pages
Order code B032 | ISBN 978-1-57498-167-4

Note: This edition of Soda, Clay and Fire is identical in content to Gail Nichol’s original version published in 2006.

…popular ceramic practice, particularly in the U.S., where it’s widely taught in college ceramics departments and workshops, and has attracted a high number of professional practitioners.

Soda glaze surfaces typically include a thin sprayed-on sheen or light flash, some supplementary fluxing of an applied glaze, and attempts to imitate the orange peel texture of salt glaze. Few people have explored the potential for serious engagement of soda vapor with clay bodies, the dynamics of atmosphere during firing and cooling, and the unique aesthetic potential of soda in its own right. In this book, Gail Nichols meets the demand for more advanced technical knowledge of materials and processes and more innovative approaches to soda glazing.

“…a must-read for anybody who is interested in salt or soda firing…” – Sumi von Dassow

Chapter 1: Soda

Gail discusses what soda is, how it’s introduced into the kiln, and what the differences are between salt and soda, and you’ll also discover how some of the world’s foremost potters use soda as part of their aesthetic.

Chapter 2: Clay

The second key ingredient is clay. What kind of slips, how to choose a body, and what roles clay body components play in color development are all covered.

Chapter 3: Fire

The third key ingredient, of course, is fire. Gail guides you through the requirements needed for kiln design and materials along with firing strategies.

Chapter 4: Painting with Fire

With an understanding of the three key ingredients, the experimenting begins. Unlike any book of its kind, Nichols has documented numerous experiments and provides guidance on creating your own palette.


Chapter 5: Beyond Materials and Process

You’ll be inspired by Nichols’ account of her quest for a new aesthetic. Along the way she encountered the need to work out not only forming processes, but also tackle the uncertainty of the firings and rely heavily on intuition.

“This book is a marvel. It’s going to take a while to digest all the
incredible information that Gail Nichols has shared from her years of
exploration into soda firing. I highly recommend this book for anyone
interested in vapor firing.” – June P Bakersville, North Carolina

Gail Nichols is an Australian ceramic artist recognized internationally for her innovative approach to soda glazing. Born and educated in the US, she moved to Australia after a stint in the Peace Corps in Malaysia where she met and married her husband. She discovered ceramics in 1980, initially as a hobby, but her interest rapidly led to full-time study and a focus on salt glazing. Gail began her career as professional potter in 1985, after completing a three-year technical college course. Her first experiments with soda glazing began four years later in her inner-Sydney studio. In 1996, she began part-time postgraduate study at Monash University under the supervision of Dr. Owen Rye. Gail‘s clay and firing research in soda glazing earned her a scholarship as a full-time research candidate, and by 2002 she completed a PhD. Gail continues to work from her Sydney studio, as well as her second studio on a rural property near Braidwood, New South Wales.

Gail has exhibited her work in Australia and the U.S., has published articles in numerous journals and periodicals, and has won numerous awards. She has taught at Canberra School of Art (Australian National University) and the National Art School in Sydney, regularly leads workshops and participates in conferences overseas. Her work is represented in public and private collections in Australia and the U.S.

“Gail Nichols’ volume is a welcome compendium of the rather sparse information published to date regarding soda fired clay. And although it is a first, it hits the target nicely. She balances technical information with aesthetic information (in the form of well-shot photographs) so that it will appeal to the soda pyromaniacs as well as the gallery enthusiast. Soda fired clay is a relatively new phenomenon growing out of the tradition of salt glazed ware. However, technically and aesthetically, the two traditions are not twins, nor even siblings. They are more like cousins. Nichols’ research on the subject provides a wealth of data from which anyone serious about soda firing clay will benefit. Take her up on her offering. Read this book!” – William Buckner Atlanta, Georgia


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