Soda Ash & Baking Soda

Parts of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were spent at Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, preparing for and helping with the firing of the Soda Kiln.

We were invited to bring our approximately two cubic feet of bisqued ware to the shed next to the wood and soda kilns for glazing on Wednesday afternoon. I had already spent the afternoon before glazing the insides of all mine so all I needed to do was get wadding knobs stuck on to the undersides of my pots and put them on the shelf next to the kiln ready for loading on Thursday. Other people in the group were applying stains, flashing slips and glazes. In the photo below you’ll see Sharon Reay, Felicia Hsieh, Roma and Marion. Franz is spraying his work, outside.







Soda kiln








When I left I popped in to Burnaby Art Gallery to check out their current show of selected pieces from their collection. I might post my favourites in a future blog. Then I went down to the main pottery area of the Shadbolt Centre (where I used to teach wheel throwing) where I was told I’d find the brand new Blaauw kiln. Wow, what a splendid state-of-the-art beast it is! It has been shipped all the way from Amsterdam.

After that I took the 144 bus to Sperling Skytrain station, Skytrain to Port Moody Centre station and 160 bus home. Half an hour. Al and I share our Honda CRV and he’d dropped me off so I was pleased that transit is so easy and convenient from Shadbolt to home.

Next morning I arrived at the kilns around 11am and the back of the kiln was already loaded! So all my work is safely sitting in various spots, top and lower, on outside spots and snuggled amongst others so I’ll have lots of information about the movement of soda around the kiln, to compare with the behaviour of salt. Mostly I watched Linda carefully arranging the remaining pieces in shelves and positioning cones and draw rings where they can be seen and withdrawn through peep holes during firing. There was a good variety and size of pots so that there can be better movement of flame around the ware. Linda may not like my mentioning that her tall colleague Jay was called in from wood splitting to help load the higher shelves. Fellow potters David Lloyd and Danny Kostyshin were helping with the loading.

All set to close the door and light the burners.

Jay preparing a cone tray










In the early afternoon the pilots were lit and we left. Linda and Jay took care of turning up the burners later that evening and I’m told that the kiln was at bisque temperature in the morning. Meanwhile I walked down to the pottery with Jay and Linda to watch the opening of the Blaauw kiln that was firing yesterday. That is one of its huge advantages.. fire one day, unload the next. Plus, as Linda so happily told me, the insides come out on a track so that loading can take place from all four sides. Below are two photos of the opened kiln.

Linda checks students’ ware

Jay & Blaauw








I’ll write a second blog about the actual firing day, next.



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