A few weekends ago I was invited to participate in a raku firing being held at a friends place. I have watched many videos and seen lots of raku work but this was my first hands on experience. It was glorious. I think the process of raku is right up my alley because there is SO much left to chance. The surprise of lifting the lid of the metal bucket after firing is such a thrill. I also enjoyed it because of the social aspect to the day. It started by carefully lowering the lid of the homemade kiln cover, lighting the burner, placing a pyrometer in the air vent to gauge temperature and then waiting about 1.5 hours until the pots reached temperature. During this time of waiting there were many questions to the experienced raku folks, glazing pots & putting them out in the full sun to dry, swimming in the lake and generally enjoying each others company with this shared passion of creating. After the pots reached temperature,(about 1650) different people were designated a job to make the transfer of pots . With tongs each orange hot pot was lifted and placed onto areas on the ground where woodchips, straw, pine needles and other combustable materials lay. Placing more combustibles on top and then quickly covering the burning pots with a metal bucket. This created a reduced oxygen atmosphere and effects the outcome of the glazes in many surprising and happy ways. I can't wait to try it again soon. Thank you SO much to those who made this incredible day possible.
Tara is a Dorset, Ontario-based artist. She creates both functional and decorative stoneware pieces out of Chetolah Pottery Studio, which she opened in 2007.