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Surface Workshop - Summer 2022

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

I spent the last two weeks kicking off the start to my MFA degree at Fort Hays State University! Blood, sweat and tears don't even come close to what I am realizing will take to complete this terminal degree. Countless hours were spent with amazing people reaching for the same goals and passions who all want the best for one another. Not only have I learned more than I could have imagined, but the relationships that were built over these few short weeks are going to be forever cherished and will be a huge reason why we will all be able to achieve a Masters of Fine Arts....TOGETHER!


Soda Fire

Soda-firing is a ^10 firing process in which sodium oxide (soda) is introduced into the hot kiln during the firing process. Once inside, it will vaporize and interact with the red hot surfaces of the work leaving beautiful flashes of color and glaze. As the sodium vapor flows through and around the glowing hot pottery, it binds to the silica molecules on their surfaces to create a glassy glaze which tapers into gradients of color called flashing. Since the soda fuses to the surfaces of the work in this way, it blurs the line between pot and glaze/surface; they become one. The introduction of this soda vapor into the kiln’s atmosphere which then has a dramatic effect on the pots makes this process, much like wood-firing, an atmospheric firing process.

The soda firing was an amazing experience! I LOVED the atmospheric affects that are created during this firing process. In the past I have only been able to try replicating these firing techniques through glazes and firing schedules in an electric kiln. I experimented with some random glazes and got some great results! I layered and sprayed a few different glazes that ended up developing a bright turquoise color.



Fired to cone 04. A fat white base glaze (terra sigillata) that can be decorated with overglaze paints. Primarily decorative, and very colorful.

In-glaze decoration is popularly known as majolica or maiolica. Faience in France and Delft in the Netherlands are other names for this technique. All these names refer to the type of pottery that is made by glazing earthenware with a tin bearing white opaque glaze and decorating it with coloring oxides. The roots of majolica decoration lie in Chinese cobalt decoration over porcelain, which is the method I tried replicating above for my sampler.



Raku is a Japanese style of pottery first made during the 1580s; the practice is characterised by the removal of a clay object from the kiln at the height of the firing and causing it to cool very rapidly. Originally created for the tea ceremony, Raku ware is most commonly found in the form of tea bowls. The art form was championed by tea masters who appreciated the unpretentiousness of the wares.

Naked Raku

Naked raku is a variation of the raku technique in which a slip is applied to the pot before it is placed in the raku kiln. The slip cracks and breaks apart during the firing and is chipped off after to reveal a blackened crackle pattern. I was absolutely fascinated about this process and LOVED my outcome. This is something I would love to play around with in my future work.


Salt Saggar

Saggar Firing is the method of creating confined atmospheres within a container or saggar. The saggar can be made out of anything depending on the type of firing from the traditional refractory clay to newspaper. Originally saggars were used to protect the finish from the debris flying around the firing chamber from the wood or coal fuel source. Roughly 200 years ago, potters decided to reverse this and use the saggars to hold material near the pieces to dramatically change the finish.

Our pieces were hand built and coated with terra sigillata before they were bisque fired. Once fired they were placed in the saggar with copper carbonate, salt, and sawdust. Mine was located near the bottom corner of the saggar with it partially sticking out of the sawdust. Mine resulted in a remarkable contrast of red and black on the back, which was facing the outside. The inside was stuffed with sawdust and I feel like it took away from the possibility of the bright red and auburn color and resulted in more gray tones.

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