RAKU demos are every 3rd Saturday of each month at 10:00 am.
(Please call - 281.332.4490 - if you would like to participate or would like further information!)
Raku pottery is made and bisque fired. After glazing, the pots are fired again two or three at a time in an outdoor kiln. The firing takes from 20 to 90 minutes, during which time the kiln is very closely monitored. The potter fires by sight and sound and, as the kiln heats, the glazes come to a boil, and then flatten as they become molten. When the glazes mature, at around 1800 degrees, the kiln is opened. Using tongs, the glowing pots are lifted from the kiln and transferred to a container, which is filled with flammable materials, these ignite and a lid is quickly put on the container, which shuts off the source of oxygen. This process “reduces” the pots in an oxygen starved atmosphere. When the kiln is opened the pots are subjected to extreme thermal shock, and this often causes the characteristic crackling in the glazes. In the “reducing” atmosphere of the container this crackling and any unglazed portion of the pots turns black or varying shades of gray. The pots are scrubbed to remove the soot and smoke left on them by the fire.
top left: Renee is taking student pieces out of the reduction container. Though the pieces have cooled significantly, they can still be very hot (hence the gloves).
top right: After pulling the piece from the Raku kiln, Renee has draped horse hair (right from the horse's tail!) onto the very hot pot. Then Renee sprays ferric chloride on the pot to give her Horse Hair piece warm toasty colors.
top left: Working with Copper Matte, Bruce O'Dell is using fire and sawdust to deprive his pottery piece of oxygen (instead of putting it into a reduction chamber). This way he can visually see when the colors have developed to his satisfaction and at which point he will submerse the piece into water to 'freeze' the colors.
top right: Bruce is adjusting the propane tanks that fuel his two raku kilns.
Because raku pots are porous, they can only be used for decorative purposes.