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.

 

Firing A Raku Vessel

 

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.

Raku Pottery by Steven Forbes-deSoule
Raku Pottery by Steven Forbes-deSoule
Raku Pottery by Steven Forbes-deSoule

Raku Wall Pieces

All of my raku pottery tiles are individually cut 9" square from 3/8" thick slabs of clay.  After drying, they are bisque fired standing upright in the kiln.  Then I lay them out in the desired size and shape, and draw the pattern on them with a pencil.  Using the pattern as a guide, I then apply underglazes and glazes in the desired areas.  Each tile is created using various homemade glazes from different combustibles.

The tile pieces are then fired 3 at a time in the raku kiln.  Once they ready for hanging, 4 loop tabs are chemically bonded to the back of each tile.  After the bond cures, a wire is threaded through the tabs and secured, so the top of the wire on all of the tiles is 1 1/8" from the top edge when stretched tight.  Then I hang the raku piece using 10 pound picture hooks.  When I get the spacing correct, I take the tiles down and make a template for the potential customer to use when hanging in their space.

To see my full collection of available wall pieces as well as pieces that have sold please visit my raku wall pieces page or if you would like more information regarding my raku pottery or to schedule a visit to my studio please contact me.