Monthly Archives: March 2016

Simply Soda Recap

This week I have a break between classes and it’s a good time to take a moment to reflect on the class.

Over the last few weeks I have been learning new ways of making handles, carving, and modifying pots. For the first time in a long time I used colored slips to decorate and for the first time ever used soda clay and slips. After several years I got to use porcelain and stoneware glaze again. I got to use 3 types of clay, loaded, unload, and helped fire a soda kiln… so many new things and it’s been a blast!

At this new studio I feel that I found a home where I can stay for a long time. The community of artists in tremendous, in part because there are so many talented people who work hard to refine their craft. But also in part because everyone wants to share their knowledge and encourages each other to try a new things and shares their own knowledge.

So I guess you could say this post is about gratitude for access to a wonderful studio and a chance to develop a skill I love so much. It’s been fantastic, I learned a ton, and can’t wait to start the next session (same class, same teacher, new projects).

All that said, I do have some pots that you haven’t seen yet. Here they are.

First 2 are from Park West and the rest from Lil Street. That poor bowl warped so badly it was hard to even capture the crookedness in the photos!

And a couple of the pots that you already saw but with succulents in them:


My current teacher makes fabulous mugs and one of the things she does really well is handles. They’re a bit thicker than pulled handles and use the “dog bone” design, where the top and bottom are thicker than the middle, as opposed to only the top being thicker on a traditional pulled handle. I never quite liked regular pulled handles anyway.

A couple of classes ago she did a mug demo, showing how she does handles and how much she cleans up the mugs after she finishes them, which is a lot more than what I’d seen before. To try out her methodology, I did a series of mugs. Some of them are also carved and modified because just making a dozen handles isn’t THAT fun.

My new process is a 3-4 day set of steps:

  1. plastic: throw the mug
  2. leather hard: trim, modify, add handle
  3. harder leather hard: sponge away any unevenness after the mug is set up
  4. bone dry: remaining cleanup and decoration (e.g. wax resist, clean up carved edges )

The result is a much more polished, professional-looking product.


New Place – Soda

The studio that I am at now is the biggest and best one in Chicago, Lil Street. Lil Street is also the most expensive studio and farthest from my house, so there had to be a very compelling reason to take a class there. What pushed me over the edge is that I met my current teacher, Sam Hostert, at a craft fair and loved her work. I love the shapes she creates and her attention to form and detail. She teaches a soda class and I had to take it.

I have never tried soda firing before, so this first set of 10 weeks is going to be mostly experimenting. The teacher recommended getting something small fired as soon as possible, so this is my first batch of small pots made of soda clay.

For the first bowl, per the reacher’s recommendation, I added a bunch of texture. I put a swirl into the inside and glazed it with temoku. I am pretty pleased with how it turned out.

The second and third were meant as a set, but I think the cup is too small and it got hit with a lot of soda and stuck to its wads. (They use wads here instead of stilts; I’ve never seen this before.) You can see how thick the glaze ended up on the up, but it actually looks very cool. I would like to reproduce the effect on a larger piece where it’s not going to ruin it.

This last one is a very small cup, half dipped in white glaze.