Thursday, March 16, 2006

My Old Addiction

Due to some requests, I am posting a few more pottery pics. These are examples of the Raku pottery I make. It is a low-fire pottery that is just decorative. Raku originated in Japan in the 16th century as a part of their tea ceremony. In this process, the pieces are fired really quick in a small outdoor gas kiln. One load takes about 15 minutes as opposed to 8 hours for a load of stoneware in an electric kiln. It is fired to around 1,800 degrees F. (Mid-range stoneware, which is what my functional pots are, is fired to about 2,300 degrees F.) Anyway, you take the pots out of the kiln when they are still glowing and very quickly place them in a container (like a small garbage can) with combustible material and throw the lid on quick. I like to use pine straw or newspaper. If you fire at night it can be fairly dramatic, plus to me, its easier to judge the temperature of the kiln etc. at night.
Putting it in the garbage can with the combustibles is called reduction because it sucks all of the oxygen out of the atmosphere in the can. This lack of oxygen causes certain colors to come out in the glazes like the bright copper you see on these pots. If you just let them sit out in the air the glazes would just be green. Same principle as how when copper metal is left out in the weather it turns green over time. The black areas are where there is no glaze and the pot absorbs carbon from the burning of the combustibles. After reduction most people quench the pots in water to seal the colors on but you can just leave them in the can and let them cool completely. However, something about Raku robs you of your patience and you've just got to see it as soon as possible.
The original Japanese process did not include the reduction part and they actually used theirs to drink out of. In the 1950's Paul Soldner and some other potters brought the technique to the U.S. and started monkeying around with it, like we Americans do with everything I guess and came up with this. I don't do as much Raku as I used to but would like to get back into it a little more.

2 comments:

Gin said...

Nice work. They remind me of Thomas Porter's pieces (http://www.kycraft.ky.gov/craftcgi-bin/index.cgi?busid=412)

edifice rex said...

Thanks so much Gin! I checked out that link and he does very nice work; great to be compared to that!