Soda Kiln Build & Firing Retreat

With Kevin Kowalski – August 20-22

Join us for a 3-day soda kiln building and firing retreat, homemade food, and good people in the heart of San Luis Obispo’s wine country!

Kevin Kowalski, soda fired porcelain, 2018

Kevin Kowalski, soda fire workshop, 2020

Alex Oskie, soda fired porcelain, 2020

Kevin Kowalski, soda fired workshop, 2020

Bring 4 ceramic ALREADY BISQUE FIRED pieces approximately 6" x 6" x 6".
Any mid-range clay body will work. Applying a flashing slip to your greenware before bisque firing will result in warm color flashes as seen in the images above. More information on clay bodies, glazes, and flashing slips will be available upon sign up.

Friday 10am-4pm: We will cover the basics of soda firing, soda kiln construction/theory, convert a round gas kiln into an updraft soda kiln, glaze your bisque-ware, and load the kiln. Lunch and refreshments will be provided. If you have any dietary restrictions, please leave a note in the checkout screen. Also, feel free to bring any food or beverages of your own 🙂

Saturday: This is a free day you can use to explore San Luis Obispo County, go wine tasting, hit the beach, or go for a hike. On Friday we will discuss an optional 1-2hr window when you can come check out the kiln ramping up to temperature, and observe soda ash being added to the kiln.

Sunday 10am - 1pm: We will unload the kiln, discuss results, and clean up the feet of your pots. Brunch will be provided. If you would like to photograph your work there will be a photo booth set up.

Soda Kiln Build & Firing Retreat

August 20-22, Arroyo Grande, CA



Kevin Kowalski, soda fired porcelain, 2021

Kevin Kowalski

“In my current body of work I am using the methods of Mocha Diffusion and soda firing to create decorative landscapes on my utilitarian pottery. I have developed depth in each landscape composition through layers of texture, design and atmosphere.

With references to Mochaware of the early 1800’s my dendritic tree decoration is a dominant feature in each scene. The unique pattern of foliage is achieved in most cases through a brush stroke of chrome green oxide with an organic acidic mixture on top of a fresh layer of liquid clay. The addition of the sun or full moon is a way I add a focal point and create a sense of balance and depth in the composition. The sky and atmosphere in the landscape is created by flashing slips and soda vapor which is reminiscent of dusk and dawn.

After falling in love with the rich and vibrant surfaces of Gail Nichol’s soda fired work and learning about Mocha Diffusion decoration while watching a Robin Hopper video I knew the two techniques could work great together. Nichols and Hopper are wonderful examples of artists using traditional methods and creating innovation in their work. This inspired me to bring together the two methods of Soda firing and Mocha Diffusion to innovate these traditional surface treatments in my work.”

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Will my pots be food safe / waterproof?

Yes! This will be a mid-fire firing resulting in food safe and water tight. 

Do you have recommendations for places to stay?

San Luis Obispo is not the easiest places to book accommodations for in the summer so please make sure you can find a place to stay if necessary prior to signing up. Recommended cities for stay range from Arroyo Grande, Oceano, Pismo, Shell, Avila, and San Luis Obispo. Paso Robles is also a nice place to stay, but will be about a 50min drive to the studio.

Can I bring my own food or beverages?

Of course! Lunch and some refreshments will be provided, but feel free to bring your own stacks for you or others as well as any beverages of your choice.

What will be served for lunch?

This will be determined at a later date and participants will be contacted to make sure the meal of choice works for them. If you have any dietary restrictions please add a note at checkout.

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