This past Saturday my friend Jo and I participated in a Raku firing at Portland Pottery. Basically a raku firing is a quick firing process where pieces are glazed (using glazes made specifically for raku),heated up quickly, then taken from the hot kiln and set onto combustibles (wood chips, sawdust, newspaper, straw, whatever) allowed to catch on fire and then covered to rob the burning atmosphere of oxygen. Here's a great site to learn more about RAKU.
It is exciting, fun, dirty, smoky and full of wonder! If you ever get a chance to try it, I highly recommend it. This time I had some of my own pieces but decided to experiment with some commercial low fire bisqueware pieces (like the ones you might "paint" at a "clay cafe" where you underglaze, then they clear glaze, fire it and get it back to you). I decided to try a piggy bank, a light switch plate, a star lidded container and a round lidded container in the commercial bisqueware. I had a couple of goddesses and a few of my birds of my own work.
Jo had a bunch of her bird whistles made from Watershed clay that bisques to a beautiful red color like old native Indian pottery. She had a good time experimenting with the different raku glazes to find out what they would look like.
Here's Will, our fearless leader, with the kiln red hot, opened while he takes the pieces one by ones and sets them into the piles of combustibles prepared beforehand.
With raku, you never know what you are going to get so it is full of wondering and waiting to SEE what you get. The results were great, had a good time with my friend Jo and we had a laugh on the way home on the boat from people looking around trying to figure out where the smell of smoke was coming from. It was us!