July 27 – August 2 2025
Explore the Timeless Beauty of Smoke firing
Throwing, handbuilding. For all levels
In Earth‘s Alchemy we will delve into the earliest known method of firing ceramics; Smoke Firing. Indeed, examples of this method date back to as early as 9,000 BCE.
Despite the many advances in ceramic technology, the fascination of smoke firing is unbroken, and to this day, there is an ongoing interest in this mesmerizing technique. Tapping into the use of fire as a tool, this practice stirs something in our primitive being. Embracing nature’s elements and harnessing the beauty of form, students of Earth‘s Alchemy will discover the timeless appearance of smoke fired ceramics.
In Earth’s Alchemy we will make beautiful forms through both hand and wheel throwing methods, keeping in mind the idea of creating soft and quiet forms that are blank canvases for the fire to decorate. We will study how to achieve dramatic effects through modern day approaches to smoke firing. Students will leave this workshop with a thorough understanding of this ancient process and the knowledge to be able to repeat it in their own backyard.
1 Nature As Your Canvas: Learn how to work with Earth’s elements- fire, air, earth, and water. Participants will be guided through an understanding of decorating and painting ceramics with fire and combustible materials.
2 Connection to the Ancient World: Explore the art of working with minimal resources as our ancestors once did. Engaging in a process that reflects a primal connection between humanity and the natural world.
3 Clay and Pit Preparation: Learn the decorative process of preparing a pit for smoke firing with the use of natural elements. Gain an understanding of how to apply terra sigillata, burnishing, and waxing to achieve glossy finishes out of a dry atmosphere.
4 Community and Connection: Explore the beauty of community and human connection that La Meridiana cultivates. Playing with clay and fire, conversations with international students and teachers that inevitably lead to collaboration and personal relationships, and three course daily lunches that bring together an eclectic group of artists and enthusiasts.
Whether you are a seasoned ceramic artist or a beginner eager to explore a primitive and elemental approach. Earth’s Alchemy will be an unforgettable experience and allow you to incorporate these ancient techniques into your own contemporary practices. A small group of eight students will work closely together.
Students will study in the suportive environment of La Meridiana. A delicious mid day meal is included on all working days. At booking, you may select your preferred room type, choosing between standard lodging, single room and/or upgraded accommodation. Please note that depending on the availability, certain types at times may not be offered.
Last kiln opening will be on Saturday morning, please plan your travels so to not need to leave La Meridiana before 9.30 am.
Carson Culp is currently based in Portland OR. He has been an apprentice at the Leach Pottery, a resident in Japan, Mexico, Italy and the US. He likes to use traditional techniques to make work that is relevant. As a potter, he is dedicated to his craft and open to the exploration of forms, new and old. In addition to opening his own studio in Portland, he has taught in clay studios during his residencies. Since 2023 he collaborates with La Meridiana. https://culppottery.com @culppottery