ALL FIRED UP: Introducing the Steel Yard’s Soda Kiln

Photosby Fred Gorman

We are thrilled to announce the 2018’s newest addition to the back-40, the custom-built, ridiculously awesome and super cool… SODA KILN! (We still haven’t named it yet, but are totally open to suggestions!)

This past summer, Larry Bush and Rick Haynes completed building the soda kiln in the Steel Yard’s Back-40 nestled appropriately next to our larger than life Anagama wood fire kiln. Bush and Haynes were assisted by a wonderful team of Steel Yard Resident Artists, Yardies and RISD graduate students to create this newest and gorgeous addition to the Yard’s Ceramic Department.

The soda kiln is comprised of high-temperature firebricks and can reach close to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit (cone 10). The kiln is a true dual fuel kiln which means it can run solely on wood or propane or a combination of the two.

The new kiln has already completed ten soda firings of over a hundred unique pieces of pottery. It is currently in its early testing stages being utilized by for the time being by Steel Yard residents and RISD students.

For the past five years, the larger woodfire Anagama kiln has attracted hundreds to our Back-40 which is quickly transforming into a potter’s paradise. With this new soda kiln addition, it’s fair to ask: so what does it do?!

The soda kiln utilizes soda ash, a water-soluble sodium salt of carbonic acid, as the glaze, Once the kiln reaches the right temperature soda ash is added to a pump and sprayed in, coating both the pottery and the walls of the kiln. The effect? A shiny glaze that brings our rich and vibrant colors and tones. The best part is that you never really know what to expect. The way the fire moves completely and uniquely transforms each piece.

The Anagama kiln doesn’t get soda ash… it utilizes ash, from you, guessed it, WOOD…. our wood fire kilm fires at the same temperature, cone 10. There are many similarities between the two kilns in that they both take a village to fill, fire up and maintain… but the soda kiln promises to be a faster and more efficient process taking roughly only 24 hours to reach cone 10.

We’re incredibly excited for all that this kiln can offer to our future ceramicists and residents. 

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