Through working with clay, Elena Vanasse Torres hopes to build a relationship with place and earth itself, as well as the elements that are required– fire, wood, minerals, water, stone– to shape and make durable. Elena treats both her sculptural and functional work as an invitation for ritual in her everyday life.
A note on Soda & Wood Firing:
Soda firing and wood firing are considered atmospheric firings— a situation in which the kiln is fired to such a temperature that certain elements in the fuel itself reacts with the minerals in the clay, allowing the interior environment of the kiln (e.g. soda ash or wood ash) to create effects on the red-hot pottery. These effects can be quite varied.
Depending on the fuel type and desired effect, a kiln can take anywhere from two days to one week to fire. Especially in the case of wood firings, which can require round-the-clock monitoring split between a handful of committed, sleep-deprived potters, this incurs not only a considerable expense for the amount of fuel required but also a great deal of time, energy, and heart.
The results are well-worth it. In the case of wood ash, ash deposits in various patterns on the clay body and can leave coral-reef-like encrustations of purple, peach, or white— this can be enhanced by the use of certain glazes which is hugely variable depending on the composition of the clay body and placement in the kiln.