The raku firing process was developed in Japan in the sixteen century. Unlike other firing methods the raku process is rapid. After the ceramic work has undergone the usual bisque firing of up to 1000 degrees, a glaze firing would normally take between 12 - 24 hours to effectively seal and decorate the work. With a raku firing the work can be completed in under three hours; which allows plenty of time for a summer end of term barbeque.
Eric and Maggie have placed all the work in the kiln.
Everyone gets ready with the sawdust to throw on to the fired work.
All the equipment is set out in advance and the work is placed in the drum kiln to rapid fire until the glaze is white molten in appearance.
Maggie get ready to remove the lid, whilst Sue holds the tongs and Lisa is armed with a lid.
On opening the kiln, metal tongs are used to remove the glowing work from the kiln, which is placed carefully in the nearby bin.
Maggie uses the tongs to grip a vase, whilst Emma stands near by with the lid if the flames get too high.
Helen and Ian are busy throwing the sawdust on to the work that Kenny has got out of the kiln.
Eager students are waiting to cover each piece of work with saw dust and the lid is placed firmly on top to smother the flames.
Once all the work is smoking in the bin, the students can all go off and enjoy the barbeque.
A carbonaceous atmosphere is created inside the metal bin, which helps to create the unique metallic and crackled effects that are particular to raku glazes.
Preeti and Maggie look for the work in the bin.
Kenny assists Maggie in the tricky search.
When the bin has been left for awhile to cool Maggie and students have the arduous and smoky task of carefully rooting about in the sawdust to retrieve the raku objects. This is a tricky process for there are always a few pieces that do not want to be found. The work is still very hot and on being exposed to the atmosphere, can easily ignite the saw dust again.
Students get ready to open the bin.
Students clean their raku work.
The pieces are the slowly lowered into a bucket of water to cool and can then be cleaned with wire wool to reveal the special glaze effects.
Maggie and Tracy with the Students.
Happy Students demonstrating their cleaning skills.
Pottery Class and Work
Students cleaning their finished work with wire wool to reveal the beautiful raku glazes.