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Variations in Atmospheric Firings: Wood, Soda and Salt | Ceramic Works by Fred Follansbee

Annex Gallery

Opening reception: Friday April 14, 6-8 p.m., 2nd Floor

With this show, I wanted to explore the range of effects in three types of atmospheric firings. An atmospheric firing is one in which something is introduced into the atmosphere of the kiln which affects the pieces in the kiln. A wood firing uses wood as fuel and wood ash is distributed in the kiln and lands on the pieces and can act as a glaze and/or change the color of the pieces (flashing). Soda and salt kilns introduce soda ash and salt, respectively, into the kilns at a high temperature, which vaporizes and coats the pieces, creating glaze and flashing effects.

There are so many factors which can affect the pieces in these types of firings and my goal is to show the wide spectrum of outcomes. Some of these factors are: type of clay body, slip, glaze, application of glaze and/or slips, additives to the clay, reduction/oxidation in the kiln, time/temperature of reduction/oxidation, atmospheric pressure/humidity, type of wood, distribution of salt/soda (solid form or sprayed), placement of pieces in the kiln, placement of pieces relative to other pieces, form of piece.

There is a controlled randomness in these firings which draws many people, including myself, to them. Through experimentation and analysis, one can learn to use the randomness of the wood/salt/soda distribution as a positive factor in enhancing the pieces.

I have been visiting Japan for close to twenty years and enjoy studying Japanese ceramics and bonsai. While technique and skill are very important to Japanese ceramics, looseness and spontaneity are also held in high regard. Skills and techniques are learned, then incorporated into the subconscious as tools to enable the artistic concepts to materialize in the corporeal world.

The ability to produce something child-like and whimsical, yet artistically balanced, is something I enjoy in Japanese culture and I believe these atmospheric firings enhance these objectives for me in my work. I feel very fortunate to have the access to thirty plus soda firings a year at Lillstreet, which has given me an opportunity to learn much and interact with many artists.

-Fred Follansbee

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