This is the inappropriate way to do raku, as you are definitely not supposed to do it out of the top of a bog-standard electric kiln.

The pots are glazed with home-made raku glazes, and sit on the top shelf above a standard bisque firing (1000° C).  It requires a team of people:  a lid-lifter, a pot-carrier, and a sawdust-manager.  Ideally you have a fourth person doubling as official event photographer and emergency fireman, but we couldn’t get a fourth this morning.  You do have to be careful, as in theory the pots can explode on contact with the cold air, and there’s an obvious risk of bad burns from careless accidents.

But you sometimes get wonderful and unpredictable effects from the glazes which are reduced by their stay in the sawdust (the burning dust robs the atmosphere round the pots of oxygen).

The action is brief but intense;  then a tantalising wait;  then you find out if it was worth the bother.  Click into image to see detail in the gallery.

(two of these were taken at the last raku firing as we needed all hands to take pots out of kiln and couldn’t photograph that stage of the process today)


9 responses »

  1. Wow! this is wonderful. I admire your talent to create something so beautiful. My skill is limited to the ‘fourth person’ you couldn’t get – the event shooter or fireman 🙂 thanks for sharing.

    • The first time I tried to do a raku pot out of the top of the kiln I was really alarmed by the huge WHOOMPH of heat which came out. I’ve never had the nerve to open it at 1200+ degrees. And thank you, I rather like the dribbly round pot too, though whether I’ll ever succeed in reproducing it I don’t know. We have, however, established that these glazes don’t go off after 12 months of sitting in their tubs.

    • They seem to cope, as although there is a rush of cool air into the kiln the lid is only open for a few moments at a time … firing the beach clay is another question, as the clay is full of salt, so I’ve only fired that in the kiln when I could see that the elements were very manky already and I had bought the new ones ready to install.

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