Am I there yet?

Sometimes, my life feels like a super drama. Pick a daytime soap and drop me in. Ha! There might even be an evil twin who was abducted by aliens…you never know. In real life, I have it good. No, I have it better than most. Is it ideal? Maybe not, but seriously, who’s is? And isn’t one’s ideal, another’s discontent?

The masks we wear everyday get old and tired. We hide behind makeup, smiles and curtain of emotional shields hoping it will protects us from what scares us. But it’s our own insecurity that we can’t face head on. Looking for reassurance, acceptance and approval.

We define ourselves by our environment and circumstances. But when we create the identity lead by our heart and passion, our true self is realized. Am I there yet? No. Will I get there? I hope so.

As my day come to a close, I reflect on how I spent my hours and minutes that get me to the midnight lights out for the sleep that had been calling for me. Being a mom, wife, grand mother and a studio assistant keeps me busy.  And on occasion, I am reminded that I’m a potter too. The day is done, but I am acutely aware that too many things are left undone.

Maybe tomorrow I will get the slurry of clay between my fingers and feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in my hearts passion.

Because today, I am left undone.

Soda Fired Teapot, March '16
Soda Fired Teapot, February ’16

Let’s finish on a positive note…

I am pleased to announce that I have been accepted in to Two exhibitions that open next month:

– Purposeful Pottery presented by Blue Line Arts at the WestPark Workshop Gallery, 405 Vernon St. #100, Roseville, CA
Dates: April 16 – May 14, 2016
2016_AnagamaTeapot3_a 2016_RedTeapot5_a

Sun City Lincoln Hills Exhibition in conjunction with America’s ClayFestIV at Orchard Creek Lodge, 965 Orchard Creek Lane, Lincoln, CA
Dates: April 16 – May 14, 2016



Fresh from the wood fire kiln 2016.

2 months into the year and I’ve participated in 3 wood firings, and one more coming up next week! It’s a lot of work, but the little pyro in me is loving every ache and sleepless nights when I get teapots that look like these!

I think I’m getting the hang of what to expect–at least what to look for–out of the wood kiln and more specifically from the soda and salt firings. The teapot forms have been refined to take advantage of the movements of the flame and to allow for the ash and glaze to enhance surface effects. These 7 teapots survived in its whole without much touch up post firing. Credit to good wadding placement and key positioning in the kiln.

Several of these teapots show signs of heavy body reduction early in the firing. While this is not usually desirable and could cause carbon coring, there doesn’t seem to be any bad results from it. It really highlights the textures and coil details very well. You can tell which have the heavy body reduction by the “smokey” coloring—that’s the carbon trapped in the body of the clay under the ash/soda glaze.

You will find some of these teapots in a new exhibition that I am part of at The Main Gallery in Redwood City titled “Stories: Selected Works by the Orchard Valley Ceramic Arts Guild”. Exhibition opens on February 24th and runs through April 3rd, 2016. Artist Reception is held on Saturday 27th from 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm. If you are in town and can make the reception, please join me at the after party gathering at Milagros Restaurant across the street immediately after the gallery closes. Public parking can be found at the Redwood City Library adjacent to the gallery.

160101_Teapot_SodaSalt1a 160102_Teapot_SodaSalt2b 160103_Teapot_SodaSalt3a 2016_AnagamaTeapot3_a 2016_AnagamaTeapot4_a 2016_SodaTeapot1_a 2016_SodaTeapot2_d

My first taste of Soda…

Soda fired pottery!

Testing slip and glaze colors on cups for soda firing, May 2011.

Not the sugared bubbles with caffeine that tickle my nose kind. We did have plenty of caffeine to stoke our 12 hour firing schedule, and sugary donut holes that accompanied the coffee to wake us up way too early from the Sunday morning slumber.

This past Sunday, I, along with 10 other potters, participated in a Soda Fire Workshop at ClaySpace with step-by-step instruction from John Spiteri. While the actual firing was for 12 hours on Sunday, there were weeks of preparation—mixing the slips for testing, making and applying the slips to the pots, firing to bisque, apply glazes and finally the loading the kiln. All in all, we had about 3 months to prepare the 12 hours of watching the kiln burn to 2330 f, measuring its progress every 30 min and eagerly waiting the 3 days for the kiln to cool just enough to handle the pots with heat-proof gloves.

The results… OMG! Some cry, some cheer, some just stand speechless staring at a piece of clay that speaks volumes. It really is as much a guessing game, a gamble of what you will see when the kiln opens. (By “open” we mean remove the bricks one by one as the anticipation of the crowd build.)  If you are a control freak, start soda firing and you will be cured. If you live serendipitously, you will be in your happy place. There’s something for everyone.  Whether you are a potter, or a collector of pottery, you will be hooked.

Soda Fired Pottery
There is so much written about soda firing out there, I’m just going to post the words found from my research that helped me the most.

Emily Murphy: Super helpful blog post about soda firing complete with history, process, photos and recipes.
Gail Nichols: She is an Australian ceramic artist, recognized internationally for her innovative approach to soda glazing. We used some of her slip recipes to test its magic.
John Spiteri: Of course our instructor! In my own words, he has gazillion years of experience as a potter who have set his feet back down to help aspiring potters like me.
Ceramic Arts Daily: An on-line newsletter format with loads of useful information about pottery making.

And then there’s the Google search for “soda fired pottery”. There’s no right way or a wrong way to soda firing except for the process. You put the pots in the kiln, cross your fingers, say a prayer if you’re the praying type, and wait patiently or impatiently as it may be.

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What’s next? Another soda firing!