Raku this weekend was at the mercy of the weather. However the fire gods smiled on us Saturday morning as the rain cleared for a few hours! (Two little fire gods below!)
I had two different kinds of hand built items ready for the firing. The majority of pieces had been bisque fired and glazed with raku glazes. However I made a pair of tall narrow vases that were glazed as greenware and then bisque fired. This was because we had an extra night at SB’s studio before the firing and not enough time to bisque fire and glaze separately. The glaze on the greenware moved a lot in the bisque firing which was disappointing but I was still eager to see how they would emerge after the raku firing.
The firing took place at SBs studio – two separate kilns to get through the volume of raku items as well as a single metal bin for a 24hr smoking.
The pieces were loaded into the kiln and fired for around 30-60 mins depending on the rate of heat. SB has decades of ceramics experience to draw from and she was able to decide when the pieces were ready.
Items were removed from the kiln using long metal tongs and placed into a variety of metal vessels including bins, billys, wheelbarrows and boxes! These were already half filled with sawdust and once the white-hot pots were placed in the sawdust, more was thrown on top of them as well as paper and other organic matter. Once the flames were covered a lid, or pre-prepared tin foil lids, was placed on top and on top of that, wet newspaper was laid.
After about 30mins or so, we removed items from the sawdust and washed them down. It was amazing to see the colours emerge from the burnt sawdust and the variation in glaze effect created by the placement in the kiln, the placement in the sawdust, the reduction and the combustable materials.
I’m really happy with the results of the raku! I tried to get as much contrast as possible in my pieces, using both the glaze and the black of the raku.
The two smaller vases at the front, the white orb and triangular vase, are both available to buy on my Etsy page!
I would definitely love to do more raku! Although it takes a fair bit of equipment, something I’d need to invest in or borrow. One technique I think I will try is the smoking. Other artists created a couple of items, burnished them and had them bisque fired. These were then placed in a large garden incinerator, surrounded by sawdust, other combustibles, palm leaves and rosemary and then a few chemicals such as copper oxide and sodium chloride were sprinkled in. This was then set on fire and left to smoke over 24 hours. I haven’t seen the results, but I am aware that you can create amazing effects using this technique. All I’d need to get is a garden incinerator and a big bag of sawdust! A lot of the other things I have already. So – perhaps this is a project for the rest of the summer while SB’s studio is closed?
As ever, it’s great to hear from you so please feel free to comment or offer tips or advice!