Tall, Dark, and Mysterious

11/29/2005

Playing with fire

File under: 1000 Words, I Made It Out Of Clay, Know Thyself. Posted by Moebius Stripper at 7:10 pm.

I’ve said before that throwing is by far my favourite part of making pottery. And for the most part, it is.

I’m almost never terribly happy with the way the surfaces of my pots turn out, and I’ve always felt somewhat cheated by the firing process: load the electric kiln, and then wait patiently for two days as a machine transforms your work without any input from you.

Raku is different.

The raku firing process isn’t very demanding in terms of money and materials. If you can get your hands on a propane tank, a torch, some bricks, a bit of insulation, a few metal garbage cans, and a bag of sawdust, and some open space, you can set up a raku kiln and some reduction chambers. And it’s a quick process: as little as an hour, compared to the day and a half to two days that stoneware spends in the electric kiln. But raku demands careful attention and input from the potter: a premature removal of wares, or a slight delay covering the pots can dramatically alter the outcome. And even when done properly, it’s not for conservative potters.

The payoff is huge: bright colours, dramatic metals, and the coolest chemistry lesson you’ll ever experience.

I’ve chronicled this weekend’s raku fire at my pottery gallery, and I’ve got some photos of the finished products.