Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Raku Firing

On Monday we tried a raku firing. The sun finally came out, after a week or two of wintry weather (very strange for late September!) and we took advantage of it. I decided to make miniature bottles as test-pieces for 6 test glazes and threw, glazed and fired a load of work in the same day, which was a lot of fun.

12 test pieces before firing
'Raku' means 'pleasure'. It is the Japanese art of quick-firing pots (usually tea-bowls) at a low temperature and taking them out of the kiln with tongs while still red-hot. They are then buried in sawdust to finish off the reduction, and dunked in cold water. The process is fast, risky, and exciting, both to watch and take part in. Usually one person opens and closes the kiln and sawdust bin, while the other person handles the tongs. Glazes on raku ware are often irridescent and brightly-coloured  in a way that you can't always get at higher temperatures. Because of the heat shock there is often a high breakage rate. Results are random and unexpected - but that just makes it more addictive - you get instant results, and you never know what you might get.

The four best pieces, after firing
This one is my favourite - I like the crackle effect around the rim.

Cat-to-pot ratio... to give an idea of the scale...


Peter said...

Hi Danny,
Nice to read about your raku in one day firing... really impressed with the speed of it all! I like the use of the cat as a measuring device, I'm using a similar one in the ample shape of our Tom cat, to measure my attempts of losing weight! I have so far lost one Tom cat worth of surplus bulk! Thanks for your sympathetic comment on my site too, it was nice to hear from you. Strange how the best planned things sometimes go astray, but I am starting to enjoy things here, and Auckland has some welcome warmth, which does make a change from the snow of... was it just a week ago down our way??!! Keep on the good work with the raku, I must do another raku firing myself soon. Have you ever tried Abbots White in raku?? I had a little PCW from Nelson that worked great.

Danny Holland said...

Thanks Peter

Half the pots were Abbots White in that firing, the rest home-won terracotta - the AW turned a nice black on the unglazed areas, good colour response elsewhere. What is PCW?

We will be doing a lot more raku soon, in the very near future.

Glad to hear Auckland is treating you well...still bloody cold down here - hard to work in these conditions!

Peter said...

Auckland is gloriously warm.. sorry to rub it in! Sunny all day today! PCW is Potters Clay White from Nelson.

Interesting about Abbots White, I must have a go at doing raku with some when I get home. Had a look at the Colin McCahon house yesterday. A lovely, simple place, I really enjoyed the peaceful setting and could have happily worked there with my wheel or with paint.