Sunday, October 11, 2009

Raku Firing

This is our raku kiln during a evening firing. We use propane gas for the fuel. The square thing on the front is a pyrometer that is used to measure at very high temperatures. There is an attached cable running to the right side of the kiln that is attached to a probe inserted into the kiln though a small hole. When the temperature reaches 2000 degrees F., Henri removes the entire top of the kiln using heavy duty asbestos gloves.

With the top of the kiln removed, Henri uses a pair of long handled tongs to remove the pot.

It will go into this prepared garbage can filled with sawdust and ripped up newspaper.

When the glowing hot pot hits the newspaper, it immediately ignites with a quick swoosh of flames.

He lets it burn for about 20 seconds, adding a little more combustible materials, before slamming down the lid to the can to begin the process known as reduction. This process will completely take out all the oxygen from inside the can, and when the chemicals in the raku glaze react to this starvation of oxygen, that's when the metallic flashes occur.

After about 20 minutes in the trash can, the pots are taken out with tongs and plunged into cold water, which is a tremendous thermal shock, considering the temperature of the pots which are still way too hot to handle.

These are some of my pots that we fired today.

They are hard to photograph because of all the reflections in them.

And here are 10 little fish all plucked from the fire today as well.

And some upclose shots

Translated from Japanese, the word raku means "enjoyment". Traditional Japanese raku was used as part of ancient tea ceremonies, but has been adapted by Western potters into a more contemporary art form, which is the process we use.


Piecefulafternoon said...

That is so interesting - I had no idea about the process. Thanks for sharing.

Mickey Johnson said...

...what an incredible process with such gorgeous results. i loved reading about this...thanks so much for sharing! xo, mickcey