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Soda and Porcelain Masterclass with Jack Doherty 1, 6, 7 & 13 April


Dates and Times:

Monday 1 April – 10am to 2pm or until finished

Saturday 6 April – 10am to 4pm

Sunday 7 April – 9am-4pm. Kiln Firing and Masterclass
(*firing the kiln will take between 12 and 14 hours however
students are not required to stay for the entire time)

Saturday 13 April – 10am to 12pm. Unpack and discuss results.


Jack Doherty


Workshop One


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This is a unique opportunity to work with renowned international ceramic artist, Master Potter and Soda expert from Cornwall, Jack Doherty, who will be resident at Canberra Potters in March and April 2024.

This workshop is for skilled intermediate and advanced potters and ceramic artists interested in soda firing and working with porcelain.

Particiapnts must have experience firing a gas kiln or a Canberra Potters Kiln Licence.

Jack Doherty

Born in Co Derry, Ireland, Jack Doherty studied at the Ulster College of Art and Design in Belfast wanting to be a painter, but after a visit to Lucie Rie's studio he decided he wanted to make pots for a living. On graduating he worked at Kilkenny Design Workshops before establishing his first studio in Co Armagh and then relocated to Herefordshire. From 2008 - 2013 Jack was the first Lead Potter and Creative Director at the refurbished Leach Pottery in St Ives, Cornwall where he established the production studio and designed a contemporary domestic range of soda-fired tableware.

Designing and making have shaped his life. As a potter and ceramic artist, he has gained an international reputation exhibiting extensively in the UK and abroad. Jack works with one clay body, one mineral and one single firing technique. Through this singleness of process, he is able to obtain a complex, multi-layering of surface texture and colour, whilst remaining true to the form. His ceramic vessels are represented in many public collections including the Irish Contemporary Ceramics Collection at the Hunt Museum, Limerick, the National Museum of Ireland and the Ulster Museum. In 2016 he received the Janet Mansfield Memorial Award in recognition of his work with soda-fired porcelain.  He currently works independently from his studio at Trinity House in Penzance, Cornwall.


Day One - Independent work prior to workshop and a slip and glaze session. 10am to 2pm

Participants should prepare a number of vessels independently and bring them to the first part of the workshop at the leather hard stage for a discussion and information about slips and glazes for soda firing. Up to five vessels for each participant will be packed into the kiln. One larger vessel no bigger that 18cm x 18cm and four smaller vessels. We will attempt to pack everything and will ensure fair and equal allocation of kiln space for each participant. We are recommending High fire Lumina Porcelain (Keane), PB103 SW, Stoneware No 10 (Walkers). Maybe mix some iron based clay with whites to test in firing. Please feel free to contact education to discuss your clay choices.

Artist Talk - in the morning Jack will give an artist talk about his work, career and processes.

Discussion about slips and glazes for soda firing.

The afternoon will be spent glazing and finishing vessels.

Participants will be encouraged to journal making process, clay choices, slips and glazes used.

Day Two – Packing the kiln and understanding soda. 10am to 4pm

Participants will return the following weekend for a day (or as long as required) of kiln packing with discussion and information about packing to obtain effective firing patterns and flame movement across the pack. Jack will discuss the soda firing process and how the soda will be introduced into the kiln. This will be one of the first opportunities to use our new soda kiln which has been built with advice and plans from Jack by Canberra Potters Members.

Day Three - Firing and a Porcelain Demonstration Masterclass. 9am (or earlier if participants want to see the kiln lit) to 4pm (or until kiln is fired down or earlier if you can’t stay).

Kiln Firing – Throughout the day we will be moving from a series of masterclass demonstrations to managing the kiln and adding soda. Learning about soda firing by observing and assisting is a key element of the day. Jack will be discussing and addressing kiln issues throughout the day.

Participants are welcome to join us early for the lighting of the kiln or arrive at 9am for the masterclass.

Demonstration Masterclass: While firing Jack will deliver a porcelain masterclass.

Often seen as a material used to make refined translucent functional pots or elaborately decorated figurative pieces, this workshop is an opportunity to consider and learn to evolve personal processes and techniques which will exploit the special fluid nature of this material.

There will be an opportunity observe Jack as he demonstrates techniques and to ask questions and gain advice.

Jack will pay special attention to basic processes such as ways to avoid cracking and unwanted distortion and techniques for joining clay.

Session One: Porcelain, composition of clay bodies, plasticity and ways to use this. Wheel making skills to develop translucency. Altering forms on the wheel.

Session Two: Composite forms, using wheel made or hand-built units to create larger complex forms with integrated surface decoration.

Session Three: Talk about firing porcelain slips, glazes for reduction or electric kilns, alternative surface finishes.

We ask participants to bring a plate of food to share for lunch while the kiln fires and we take a break from working to share ideas.

You are welcome to stay until the firing finishes. Expect to be here until at least 6pm.

Participants must wear covered, sturdy shoes and non-flammable clothes (natural fibres are preferable). Long shirt sleeves to protect arms from heat. Hair should be tied back and we recommend leaving valuable jewellery at home.

Day Four: Join us at 10am for the unpacking of the kiln and critiquing of the work.

All images with permission of the Artist.

 Potter icon in black & whitePotter icon in black & white

Intermediate to advanced potters