clay is a mixture of ball clays, china clay and sand mixed to enhance
the soda glazing process and encourage
the typical orange peel texture and warm body colour, which results
from sodium vapour glazing. The
colour is further determined by slips into which the pots are
dipped or which are brushed or trailed onto the pots. The slips are
on a mixture of china clays and ball clays to encourage the orange
colours. I also use a black slip, which has a combination of
manganese, iron, cobalt and sometimes chrome to produce a deep bluish
Click on the thumbnails to see larger images.
All of my work is thrown,
manipulated, altered and assembled while freshly thrown on the wheel.
I work on a momentum wheel built by Brian Guest.
Since the way I work calls for pots to be completed as they are made,
I tend to make pots in small series or families rather than as a larger
production process . Moving house and studio to Norfolk in early 2004
has opened up many new opportunities. I now have a studio and showroom
in a 1000 sq. ft. barn, and have a new LP Gas and wood kiln.
The new kiln was designed by Joe Finch and built in the spring of 2004 by Ruthanne,
Joe, Richard Godfrey and Kevin de Choisey.It has been designed to be fired with
a combination of LG Gas and wood so has fire boxes which are large enough with
firebars and separate stoking door to accommodate wood as well as an opening
below the firebars for the LG Gas burners, which are diagonally opposed, one
front and one back.The combination of wood and gas allows for one person to fire
the kiln while being more versatile and benefiting from the added sparkle and
softening that comes from the wood ash.
pots are all raw fired. The stacking of the kiln is carefully
considered to encourage the flow of the flame and the vapour
through the chamber
and around the pots. To avoid having pots stick to kiln shelves
with the melting sodium vapour, a mixture of china clay and alumina
made into a dough-like consistency is used as small "wads" to
separate the pot from the shelf. Often I use cockleshells filled
with wadding to set the pots so their marks are left behind
on the pot as
a decoration and as one further indication of the process the
pot has been through.At approximately
1260 degrees centigrade (cone 8) I alternate stoking the kiln
with wood on which I have painted soda “paste” with
spraying a super saturated solution of sodium bicarbonate into
above the flames. This is repeated every 15 minutes for about
2 – 2
1/2 hours until test rings pulled out of the kiln at regular
intervals show that the build-up of sodium on the clay is sufficient.The
pots are fired to 1300 degrees centigrade or cone 10 flattened.
most of the firing is a reducing atmosphere, with a long oxidising
soak at the end of the firing, before being clammed up and left
to cool for 1 1/2 days.
To get a detailed explanation of soda glazing techniques used
by several different potters, see "Soda Glazing" published by A&C
Black in the UK and University of Pennsylvania Press in the USA.