Soda Surface workshop
with Eva Champagne

June 3-16, 2018

Weave, unravel; express, obliterate.

In this workshop, participants will experience the serendipitous nature of firing in a soda atmosphere: what the soda contributes, what it takes away. There is a wonderful sense of freedom in giving a work over to the atmospheric firing process, and a sweet anticipation of results which cannot be entirely predicted. The process can be described as a collaboration between the artist’s planning and expression, and the kiln’s sweeping endowments and editing.

The workshop will be focused in two dimensions: Surface treatment techniques and atmospheric firing. Participants will layer underglazes, flashing slips, underglaze pencils, and glaze, creating varied, colorful, and lively surfaces. Methods include using wax to mask, brushing, pouring, slip trailing, etc, with an emphasis on strategic combinations, layering, and experimentation.  And then we will give these highly expressive works over to the soda firing process, allowing it to have the final word in design.

Sunday, June 3          GETTING TO KNOW EACH OTHER    MOKSA restaurant
6pm: Meet at Moksa, introduce ourselves, image talk, get excited!
Monday, June 4         HIT THE GROUND RUNNING  
We’ll discuss some soda firing history, the many different effects of firing with soda (with images) and outline our strategy for accomplishing as much as possible in our given time. Then, a tour of the studio, kilns, equipment, and materials available to us.
Gaya will provide bisque-fired test cylinders of all the clay bodies they make. We will make simple but thorough tests from them for the firing tomorrow, using underglazes, flashing slips, underglaze pencils, and glaze. We’ll keep scrupulous notes in our sketchbooks for each test piece to refer to post-firing.
*Participants are encouraged to bring bisque-fired work (cone 10!) from home to fire, but best if they save those pieces for the second firing, when we have the time and the arsenal of techniques to really have fun with them.*
Tuesday, June 5                    LOAD THE BALICAT
For the first half of today, we’ll finish our test pieces, mix wadding, and complete any other preparations for firing the kiln. Our test pieces are to be straightforward (not to be confused with “boring” or “simple”) information-gathering objects.
After lunch, we’ll begin loading the BaliCat, and sign up for firing shifts.
Wednesday, June 6               FIRE!!! (AND MAKING THINGS)
Firing teams will take turns tending the kiln, those not actively firing will begin making forms for the next kiln load. I will demonstrate both wheel throwing and hand-building techniques for creating simple forms to be three-dimensional canvases for surface expression that take best advantage of the soda atmosphere. Some time after lunch, we should be introducing soda into the kiln; firing should conclude by early evening or before.
Thursday, June 7                  BUILDING AND DEMONSTRATIONS
While the kiln cools, we will continue to make our forms and begin to consider surface. Texture considerations will include: stamping, sprigging, carving, as well as the building process itself creating texture. I will demonstrate these. The emphasis will be on making as many forms as we can, in a variety of heights and widths, so we can fill the kiln with a lot of work. So, rather than be precious about a few pieces, we want to make a large number of works, to have that many more examples to review and learn from at the end.
I’ll demonstrate some techniques for underglaze application at the wet/leather hard stage. These might include: image transfer (using newsprint), woodblock printing, brushing and sponging.
Unload the kiln!!! We’ll lay out the work on tables as they were in the kiln, to get an idea of how the atmosphere moved about during the firing. We’ll discuss reduction and oxidation pockets in the kiln, and their effects on colors, textures and temperatures. We should have thorough notes to share with each other that will guide our work for the next firing.
After the thoroughly-discussed unload, we’ll continue to make our new batch of work, and I’ll demonstrate mishima, sgraffito, and using wax as a resist to activate a surface.
*ALL building must be complete by the end of the day today.
Saturday, June 9                   SURFACE WORK
No more building today! The entire day will be dedicated to completing the green stage of surface work and drying our pieces. I will be available to repeat demos or for one-on-one help. We load all the work in the bisque kiln at the end of the day!
Sunday, June 10                    FREE DAY!
Because all of our work is in the bisque kiln, today is a great day to plan fun, exciting, or relaxing activities on your own. Ask us for suggestions!
First thing in the morning, we’ll unload the bisque kiln and get a good look at all the work for the next firing. We’ll discuss what’s next for surface: this will include some images of rich, active, layered surfaces using flashing slips, more layers of underglaze colors, and glaze.
I’ll demonstrate different glaze application methods, such as dipping, brushing, sponging, slip trailing, and of course using wax to control the glaze design. As before, we must make notes in our sketchbooks of everything we do, so that we can share our techniques with others and duplicate the things that turn out well at a later date. Experimentation is encouraged! The emphasis will be on expressiveness and variety to get the most information from our experience together.
The whole day is devoted to our surface work. I will be available for more demos and one-on-one assistance. In addition, we will make our cone packs, draw rings, and wadding for tomorrow’s firing. Today we’ll sign up for firing teams as well.
We will begin loading the kiln before lunch. All completed work will be arranged on tables according to height, to facilitate this. Some last minute work can be completed today, but for the most part, we should be finished so that we can all focus on loading strategies.
Thursday, June 14                FIRE!!!
Firing teams will take turns tending the kiln. We will estimate when the soda introduction can be expected, and everyone should be present for that part. Otherwise, if not on firing duty, participants are free to come and go throughout the day.
Friday, June 15                     EXCURSION!
Kiln is cooling. EXCURSION outside the studio!!!
Saturday, June 16                 THE BIG REVEAL (DRUM ROLL PLEASE…)
Unload the kiln, lay out work as we did last time.......discuss the results. Bring your sketchbook so we can share information about how we achieved our surfaces. Summation of the experience. Group Hug! Tearful farewells!

*Schedule is subject to revision prior to the commencement of the actual workshop
**all lunches during studio days will be catered family-style in the studio mezzanine midday

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