morgaina: (pit firing)
[personal profile] morgaina
Lewiston was 104F. we successfully raised the area temperature even more by doing a raku firing. As in the past years, it was a lot of fun (clay, friends, controlled danger) but no really amazingly outstanding pots resulted. I got a nice vase, hard to take photos of it because it is shiny with luster; and got about 3 OK medalions and quite a few non-OK, which is OK. We did the raku in the top hat kiln we have used before but Michael, the genius, is constructing tiny kilns for each of us for future firings.

This little guy is about 2' tall, but reaches 1900F. It runs on a small bottle of propane and will hold 1 pot then can be reduced in the same kiln after reaching temperature.


This is Michael pulling the pots out of the kiln. Carolyn is standing by to spray her pot with air to cause the glaze to crackle before putting it in the reduction material.


Carolyn has just thrown paper on the molten pot, so this is the nano-second before it bursts into flame. On second thought, I believe the flaming happened and she is choking off the oxygen.


This is Judith doing an interesting technique. Rather than plunging it into organic material, when the pot is hot out of the kiln horse hair is dropped/placed onto the hot pot. It burns of course, leaving a carbon line that is permanent. The pot to the right has some excellent horsehair burns on it too.

*wonders if Cookie, Hondo, or Copper Penny would like to be memorialized this way?*

Date: 2008-08-17 05:09 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katanubis.livejournal.com
So what exactly is raku firing? I've seen the term but never had it explained.

Date: 2008-08-17 06:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] copper-oxide.livejournal.com
Raku is a ceramic firing process wherein the glazed pots are fired rapidly then when they have reached about 1900F the kiln is opened and the pots are pulled out to cool quickly.
Originally this was developed in Japan in 1580 and the pots were made for the tea ceremony. The tea bowls were craggy, gnarley, with subtle glazes and beloved by Zen Masters. Outstanding tea bowls were given names.
Then in the US in the 1950s Paul Soldner started plunging the molten glazed pots in dried organic material, then choking the oxygen off to reduce them. This gave great shiny luster colors and sooty black clay bodies. The pots are non-functional, they used to be made with lead glazes, but leadless frits are more common now.

Probably the most valuable item I own is a Paul Solder Raku tea bowl made in the 1950s, which is very, very gnarley.

Date: 2008-08-17 06:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] katanubis.livejournal.com
Thankyou. That's fascinating!

Date: 2008-08-17 07:10 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] copper-oxide.livejournal.com
You're welcome :-)
It's a very exciting process because of the molten glazes and the necessity to work rapidly and efficiently. Then we never know exactly what the pots will look like and there is a higher possibility they will break during the firing because of the extreme conditions.

Date: 2008-08-17 06:22 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] daedin.livejournal.com
Wow...that's awesome! That horsehair technique is very cool :)

Date: 2008-08-17 06:26 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] copper-oxide.livejournal.com
It's so fun. I have a friend in Coeur d'Alene who uses emu feathers and that's very nice too.
I recently got my hair permed so they were kidding me about using my hair, I convinced them the perm chemicals wouldn't work for the raku.
Edited Date: 2008-08-18 06:02 am (UTC)

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