Sarah Halford

Architecture and Ceramics

Raku – beeee happy!

Last weeeknd was my first raku firing!

For those that don’t know [and why would you?] Raku is Japanese for ‘enjoyment’ or ‘ease’, which is highly ironic given the high rate of failure. It is a method of firing pots which is fast, exciting, and very fun. You fire your glazed pots to 800-1000oC, then open the kiln and remove the pots using tongs, before smothering them in sawdust, or any material which will smother the pot and cause oxidation of the glaze surface. The pots are then cooled by dunking in water, or splashing water on, so there’s a bonfire element to it and a ‘try it and see’ element too. The finished pots will only be decorative, as the glazes craze and aren’t foodsafe.

Here is Alison’s kiln

Yup, it’s a garden furnace, with ceramic fibre as an insulator. Ceramic fibre is a grim material, you don’t want to touch it or breathe it in.

Here’s the first lot of pots I put in… they exploded because it was too hot!

But we used them as test pieces, and they did come out quite nice, if not exploded. [I turned the exploded part away from the camera but trust me, it’s exploded]

Did I mention it was a gorgeous sunny day? We had a BBQ. I decided this was going to be the Jubilee Raku Firing!

Tiz slaving away over a hot stove, she is the BBQ Queen! Check out that bumper bag of rolls. There were only six of us!

That’s Vic at the catering table. At Bridge Pottery Co operative, we are never knowingly under-catered. Note three more types of bread!

Here’s a before and after [after and before?] of Anne’s pots… the clay body goes black, the glaze becomes lustrous

Tiz used the Maltese method of splashing water on her hot pots; very dramatic!

Amazing lustre

I had nothing successfully fired by this point, and wasn’t feeling much ‘enjoyment’ or ‘ease’. I fired a dish which I had painted a slip of 50/50 china clay and flint, in a recipe from a book, and then glazed over the top. When the pot is fired, the slip bubbles away and can be peeled off to reveal a white clay body with black crazing. This worked! I chipped off the rest of the glaze when I got home.

Enjoyment! Ease!


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This entry was posted on June 15, 2012 by in pottery.
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