Raku firing at Mainely Pottery

Raku fired lamp with dragon motif by Jamie Oates

Raku fired lamp with dragon motif by Jamie Oates

It is one of those beautiful summer days without rain. Sunday was more typical of the weather we’ve seen in June and July…gray with possible rain. Fortunately I was able to fire some pottery in  my small raku kiln before the heavy rains started.

Raku is a technique which  originated in 16th century Japan. Normally pottery fired in a kiln reaches temperature gradually and also cools gradually. The firing and cooling process might take 2o hours to a few days depending on the size of the kiln.

Raku involves firing a few pots fast to approximately 1900 degrees F. and lifting the molten pots from the kiln into metal containers lined with sawdust and paper.  Sawdust catches fire and adds smoke to the atmosphere around the molten glaze.  When the molten pottery is lifted from the 1900 degree F. kiln into the air, it experiences a thermal shock.  The glaze will often shrink, cooling fast and crackle patterns will be blackened by the smoke.  Glazes with copper turn green with enough oxygen.  Where the smoke replaces the oxygen, the copper turns lustrous metallic colors and sometimes red. This unpredictable aspect of raku firing and the unusual glaze results make this process very exciting for the studio potter.

Putting raku fired pot into the can for post fire reduction

Putting raku fired pot into the can for post fire reduction

I’ll post more information about raku in future blogs. Right now I’m in the midst of packing my wares for the 35th annual juried Maine Craft Guild show at the high school in Bar Harbor, Maine. The show runs Friday, July 31st from 5 p.m to 9 p.m., Saturday, August 1st  and Sunday, August 2nd from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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