All posts are copyright Barbara Rogers 2018. Please ask if you wish to share, and give attribution to the author.My ancestry and more personal notes are now at a revised version of "When I Was 75."

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Raku fun

A visiting teacher (Maureen Joyce)  joined one of our dear Black Mountain clay teachers (Geoff Bird) to give us lots of fun in a Raku Workshop.

 Geoff Bird loads the kiln with pottery (Note bottle shape on right, which has glaze painted all over it)
Maureen Joyce, (on r) answers questions by Gale, Libba and Georgia

Maureen managed pottery, kiln, combustibles and the small bins in which the pots were reduced (ie. deprived of oxygen)

Actually Maureen Joyce has been not only a teacher here, but also a student from when the B M Center for the Arts expanded its clay program.  She moved to Pennsylvania, but comes back to North Carolina almost yearly for a summer clay camp which she teaches.  This year she also taught how to build a clay vessel with a face...face pots!

Maureen explained the process to all the students and on-lookers

So I signed up for the raku experience.  Fun fun fun.  There was a lot of waiting around talking with other students while the kilns heated our work up.  But the other students were also interesting people.

And here's the bottle shape vase below, after having been fired, reduced, and cooled.  It did crack from the heat change when placed in the water bath at the end of the process.
The irridescent shine of raku glaze, (left) or a horse-hair finish on the pot on the right.
Bette placing a hot piece into the water bath after it's been reduced for about half an hour

I'm glad I brought a chair, and that the mosquitoes didn't like my Peppermint Dr. Bronner's soap flavor, which I have found deters the bugs!
The busy time when pots are smoking away in their bins, and then everyone waits till they're ready to open
And other students even brought some delicious and simple edibles to share.  I actually didn't think my work would take beyond 8 pm to fire.  But it was not in the first nor the second round, and when Geoff Bird did fire it, he took extra time to heat it gradually, thinking it had different thickness of clay.  Perhaps it did.  But it also wasn't even raku clay, a type of clay designed for thermal shock.
We had two kilns going which helped speed up all the pottery firing process
I didn't fire with raku clay, and I didn't have anything crack.  Shhh, that will put the raku clay people out of business, perhaps.
A blurry photo of a kiln with insulation inside it, within a garbage can

A pyrometer (inserted through a hole inside) tells by a dial how hot it is

Anyway, I also did some extra things besides using raku throwing on some Mayco Stroke and Coat glazes, which mature at cone 06, about where raku glazes come to maturity.

we waited until it was over 1800 degrees F
I did put a bit of the raku clear crackle over the Mayco colors, but it didn't make much difference.  The only color of Mayco that came out was "Jaded" a nice turquoise. 

Taking the red hot pot from the kiln...

It was then placed into the container, where combustible materials were added, before the lid was put on the bin.

Tomorrow I'll have more photos!
Several bins smoking while wet towels are over the tops to help them cool down


  1. what fun, I've used regular clay for raku in a workshop and they turned out; we didn't put them in water though. looking forward to more photos.

    1. Yes, the water is for faster cooling. I skipped it with my pieces this I didn't get to see them till the next day.

  2. Very interesting. We have several potters around here who do Raku. It's beautiful.

    1. It's great excitement thought there is a long pause between putting things in the kiln and getting them out, then getting them out of the cans. I forgot to mention that most of the people in my photos have done raku before.

  3. a pity that bottle shape cracked it had such good colours


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