Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Vagaries of the Soda Kiln

A long time ago my friend and mentor, Jim, advised me against trusting one of my heavily carved pieces to "the vagaries of the soda kiln". As it worked out, that piece came out fine, but I've since experienced almost equally good and bad results from the behemoth behind MCG. In this most recent firing, I was fortunate enough to pull this gem of a mug (pictured) from the shelves, unscathed and perfectly toasted. Some of the other pieces were downright beautiful, but some came out questionable. Whether it was just such a heavy ash buildup that they dripped onto the shelf, necessitating grinding, or that they collected fragments blown around in the kiln. Worst of all, however, was the feeling I got from pulling out the piece that I had the most work invested in. Before I could even see the crack I could tell that the piece had suffered the dreaded dunting. There must be something about the draft that runs through the kiln as it cools that randomly causes pieces to crack in this manner. Whatever the cause, I just have to accept the bad along with the good. And remember the adage that I often tell my students—if you're making something important, make more than one.

Click here to view my latest soda-fired work.

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