Dresang Shino (Cone 10)
Australian Spodumene 29.4
Nepheline Syenite 14.7
Soda Ash 7.8
Pete’s (Pinnell) Cranberry Red (Cone 10)
Custer Feldspar 73.8
Gerstley Borate 10.2
Copper Carbonate 0.3
Tin Oxide 1
Yellow Salt (Cone 10)
Nepheline Syenite 63.9
Red Iron Oxide 1.12
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What attracted you to soda firing?
"Initially I fell in love with soda firing because I hated glazing. It was so seductive to only glaze the inside of my work and let the process finish the outside. Points of interest emerged from the variation caused by the interaction of the soda with the flame, creating warm hues and subtle orange peel textures. Even my bad beginner work looked polished if the soda kissed it just right.
My obsession with soda firing solidified because of the community aspect. I loved being a part of a small group firing with the little soda kiln we had at my university (UNCW in North Carolina). We didn’t have any electric kilns there. All the work was bisqued and cone 10 reduction fired in large gas kilns. The soda kiln offered a different effect and students were allowed to fire it without the professors once we learned how. I enjoyed having more control over the process and my finished work. Those late night firings with my classmates are some of my best studio college memories."
"I went to grad school at University of Florida. We had two soda kilns there that had challenges. I spent the first year trying to fire the large one with poor results. There wasn’t a community of people interested in atmospheric firing, most electric fired. I had trouble filling the kiln by myself to meet my critique deadlines. Additionally the large kiln was in poor repair and needed rebuilding. The small soda kiln shared a chimney with the large soda kiln. This was a bad design and both struggled with getting to temperature. After a number of firings that didn’t get to temperature with 20 hours of firing (what should have been 8 hours with a proper overnight candle), I convinced the department to give me funding and credit to rebuild the large soda kiln with the teaching lab tech.
Building the new soda kiln was a fantastic experience. I had built parts of kilns before but never one from start to finish with just two people. So as you can imagine it took longer than expected. In the meantime I had to keep making work. For a time I switched to cone 10 reduction in our Geil kiln. Then I did an independent study with Linda Arbuckle focused on pattern and color. As I became more interested in creating dynamic surface on my clay work, reduction gas firing made less sense. I also began to question what kind of a studio/kiln situation I would have after grad school. I am a city kid, I like living in metropolitan areas and my ultimate goal was a home studio. I made the difficult decision to change my clay, glazes and forming processes to create a body of work that made sense for cone 6-7 electric firing. Electric firing is not only more sustainable but its more economical and something that can exist in a densely populated area. Just as I was beginning to figure out my new materials we finished building the soda kiln. I had gotten so far from the soda-fired aesthetic it just didn’t make any sense to go back.
I do enjoy participating in a soda firing when I get the chance but for now electric firing is the best fit for my work and my lifestyle."
"I miss the active firing process and how it can insight a sense of community with others: I always enjoyed the camaraderie that came from working towards a common goal. The varied firing results made each kiln-opening feel like Christmas morning. That anxiety and anticipation while waiting for the kiln to cool was an intoxicating feeling. Would all the work pay off? In the same vein, I do not miss the high loss rate of soda firing or the heat exhaustion I felt after spraying soda into the kiln. Towards the end of my time working with soda, my brain always felt so fuzzy the day after firing. The health hazards of soda firing are real and even though I always wore the proper protective gear (respirator, face shield, long sleeves and pants made from cotton) I don’t miss exposing myself to those vapors. It also feels so good to know that the enormous amount of time I spent loading, firing and bricking up the door can be utilized in other ways."
"Honestly, I don’t think I do reference soda firing in my current work. My surfaces are tight, colorful and controlled. I don’t incorporate texture or carving anymore. Solid blocks of underglaze and a custom glaze palette create graphic geometric motifs on my electric-fired work. Instead of letting the firing process finish my work, I make intentional decisions when I am forming the work as to how I will decorate and glaze it. I’d say my work now is more a reaction from than a reference to my older soda work. My soda-fired work never had a voice that was uniquely mine; it was all derivative of other people’s work that I was influenced by at the time. Freeing myself from that type of firing and process helped me find my style."
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More About Adrienne Eliades:
She is a studio potter and educator living in Vancouver, Washington. She earned a B.A. in Studio Art from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 2008 and an MFA from University of Florida in 2016. Adrienne has been artist-in-residence at Ash Street Project in Portland, Oregon, Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Center in Denmark and the Bright Angle in Asheville, NC. Her works and writing are featured in numerous publications including UPPERCASE Magazine, Craft in America, Ceramics Monthly and Pottery Making Illustrated. Ceramics Monthly named her an Emerging Artist in 2018. In addition to maintaining a vibrant studio practice, Adrienne teaches at Portland Community College, is the Studio Coordinator for Idyllwild Arts HOT CLAY Summer Program in Idyllwild, California and has presented over 20 workshops nationwide.
Find Adrienne on Instagram @bugaboo_eyes
And learn more about her on her website: www.adrienneeliades.com
Soda Firing topic: Mishima
Soda and wood-firing potter, and adjunct professor, making primarily functional ware.
What inspires the imagery for your Mishima carving?
"I have a number of sources of inspiration. I love to garden, so I use a lot of floral imagery. I am fascinated by textile design and graphic design as well, and often find myself using patterns I see in fabric or a random online design as a starting point for a design to carve."
At what stage do you do the Mishima carving?
"I do my carving at leather-hard. I feel like there are a few stages of leather hard, so I would say it’s more of a hard leather hard (parmesan cheese, not cheddar)."
What tools do you use to do the carving?
"Initially, I tried using an Exacto blade. Kudos to those who have success with this tool. I couldn’t manage to get the curves I wanted using it.
After trying numerous already existing tools, and not getting the line quality I wanted, I researched a number of metal tips in multiple industries for all types of purposes. I settled on one I really liked. I was excited that the tip was threaded and could be replaced without replacing the whole tool. I then asked my friend, master tool-maker Troy Bungart, if he would collaborate on a custom tool for me. After sending back and forth a few revisions, we came up with one I really like. I will be selling them at The Roomshow at NCECA in Richmond. You can also contact me to order one directly."
Why do you like Mishima in soda firing?
"My designs, and my work, tend to be fairly controlled. I like using Mishima in soda, because it partially bleeds the inlaid underglaze onto the surface of the work in unexpected ways. Sometimes, it will leave an outline around my carved imagery. I think the atmosphere helps loosen my otherwise tightly controlled work."
What are the advantages of Mishima in light or heavy soda application, and which do you prefer?
"I like both for different reasons. Light soda preserves more of my designs while still offering some softness to the line, which can be really striking. If I spend a lot of time on an overall design, it may be preferable.
Heavy soda may even obscure parts of my design. That said, I love the contrast of heavy directionally applied soda. I can stack my work to ensure that the parts of the work I want to receive the most soda do when firing this way. This allows me to get the best of both worlds, by having a heavy juicy gray soda side and a lighter, orange flashed side. My goal in these effects is to mimic the way sunlight, just before sunset, creates long heavy gray shadows while illuminating surfaces still in its path."
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