Raku Pottery Firing
Raku firing was first done in Japan about 500 years ago. The original Japenese raku pottery process was developed primarily for tea bowls with sizes generally no bigger than a pair of cupped hands. It was westernized in 1960 by a famous ceramist named Paul Soldner. Although the original process allows each piece to cool in the open air, the more contemporary raku style is developed using a fast firing process where the raku pottery is removed from the hot kiln and placed in a metal container with combustibles. Of course once you do this it immediately catches fire and when the container is covered, the resulting oxygen-starved atmosphere creates a wide variety of effects on the clay and glazes creating exceptionally beautiful raku pieces.
The majority of my raku firing is done with pieces that have glazes and underglazes. A piece without a glaze will react with the pottery and take the oxygen from the clay materials. The resulting atmosphere makes the clay darken to a matte looking black color.
When the container is opened about 30 minutes after it is covered, itʼs extremely exciting, like being a kid at Christmas because one never knows for sure what to expect. If Iʼm not happy with the results, I fire the piece again. Consequently, some of my raku pottery is fired up to 4 or 5 times. But it is this unpredictability that inspires me! With so many different vibrant colors and possibilities using my own homemade glaze recipes, my raku firing process is truly unique and personal.