Soda Pop!: 2020 Summer Session V Preview

In this guest post, session organizers Trudy Chiddix and Tara Sartorius share the inspiration and ideas that led them to organize 2020 Summer Residency Session V: Soda Pop! Additional participating artists include Maya Blume-Cantrell, Meredith Knight, Stacy Morgan, Jan Schachter, and Marion Toms, along with guest artist Nancy Selvin. Space in the session is available for those interested in joining the group from August 9-August 21. Learn more and register for this session.

Guest Artist Nancy Selvin


Soda Pop! co-leaders Trudy Chiddix and Tara Sartorius became friends as undergraduate ceramics students at UC Santa Barbara. We both created work with vivid colors and patterns and enjoyed collaborating with others, especially during festive celebrations.

We now live far apart: Tara in Alabama and Trudy in California. Over the years we have continued our friendship and our ceramic practices, but in independent studios. Last year at NCECA 2019 in Minneapolis, we reminisced about the positive energy of the communal studio at UCSB with its easy exchange of ideas, sharing of experimental results and opportunities for collaboration. 

Vintage photo of Soda Pop! co-leaders Tara Sartorius and Trudy Chiddix


We decided to seek a group creative experience that would encourage growth in our work, fun in the studio, and friendships with new artists.  A Watershed “Artists Invite Artists” residency seemed like the perfect fit. We were attracted to the beautiful surroundings, studio facilities, abundant kilns, delicious food, and the opportunity for uninterrupted time in the studio. 

It was a natural decision to focus on experimentation with color in a cone 10 soda kiln, because we love color and neither of us has a soda kiln. When we learned that Watershed’s studio manager is very involved with soda firing and willing to coach us, we could not resist the opportunity to expand our artistic vocabulary.

Trudy and Tara working in their studios


Both Trudy and Tara are “friend gatherers.” We gathered artists from Alabama and California, inviting those whose work ranges from sculptural to functional.  We all share a sense of curiosity, a willingness to explore the unknown, and a desire to communicate with others.

Participating from Alabama:

  • Maya Blume-Cantrell – Celebrating nature and rhythm in form
  • Stacy Morgan – Creating dynamic glazes and textural surfaces
  • Meredith Knight – Unifying sculptural structures & concepts
  • Tara Sartorius – Exploring narratives using diverse materials

Meredith Knight


Participating from California:

  • Trudy Chiddix – Connecting pattern, form and mixed media
  • Jan Schachter – Focusing on well-crafted functional forms
  • Nancy Selvin – Linking the past with the present
  • Marion Toms – Maximizing minimalism in useful objects

Jan Schachter


“Soda Pop!” is our lighthearted way of expressing the vibrant results we’ll be seeking. In addition to experimenting with colored slips, glazes, stains, etc. in the soda kiln, we hope to share ideas, sources of inspiration, and images of interest. We look forward to discussing art and aesthetics in general and ceramics in particular. We’ll encourage presentations by participants who would like to show images of their work to the group.

Trudy Chiddix


Tara has offered to share some “warm” post-firing surface finishing techniques, including encaustic wax methods. This post-firing technique can be used to enhance ceramic surfaces with additional color and texture.  

Tara Sartorius


We are particularly pleased to have Nancy Selvin as our guest artist. Nancy has been making work and participating in the international ceramic community for 50 years.  She says: “My role in this residency is to mix it up and provide a little craziness for all to enjoy! Poetry, text, color, imagination: it all fits.”

Participating artists are encouraged to bring a few bisque-fired pieces for the first soda firing that will take place soon after we arrive at Watershed. These early results will inform further experiments. To facilitate sharing, we’ll create a digital record of our discoveries by photographing processes and results along with notes about recipes and techniques. A compendium will be consolidated in a PDF that participants may download at home.

If you are also interested in making new creative connections with others while exploring soda firing, color, and new surface treatments, please join the fun in August!

Register today to join this dynamic group of artists!