Monday, July 18, 2011

Raku 2011

This summer I was brave enough to take another raku course. Raku is a kind of pottery that is fired to it's final glaze temperature rather quickly. The clay is made to withstand relatively quick temperature changes.

You start by throwing or hand building your pots. I was really interested in making some yarn bowls. I threw some on the wheel and hand built a few. The clay that we were using was really too stiff. The teacher was rather upset with the supplier for sending the wrong blend of raku clay. It was so stiff that I ended up ripping some skin off of my hands on the first day. Which is why I  ended up doing some hand building.

Bill also took the class with me. He enrolled in a pottery class last winter and really liked it. I knew the teacher of the raku class and thought that Bill would learn a lot from him so I basically forced him into taking the class by getting it for him for his birthday.

After the pots have been bisqued (which is to fire them in a kiln to a low temperature to drive off the excess moisture and make them firm so they don't come apart when they get a bit wet) you put the glaze on them and put them into a kiln. The kiln is them brought up to the melting point of the glaze which is somewhere between hot and stinking hot depending on the weather. We had a hot windless day and so it was stinking hot.
The next day we went to the teachers place where he had a river nearby as well as a cover over his raku kiln.
And we turned the kiln on to fire. The pots on the top were put there to dry a little more. Because of having to put pots into a hot kiln, they needed to be warmed up just a little bit before hand or the clay and glaze may pop and explode a bit. NOT what you are looking for!

And then you wait around for about 45 minutes while the kiln comes up to temperature. Beer may be involved. So may munchies.
When the pots come out of the kiln, They are put into a metal garbage bin with a base of wood chips and some newspapers. The cover is put on and they are left to cool down some for about 15 to 20 minutes.
The pot is then plunged into a bucket of water and scrubbed to remove the carbon on the surface.
Here are two of my pots. I focused mainly on yarn bowls and these were my two favorites.
 Here they are a little blurred but the colour is about right.


tanita davis said...

An interesting concept, a yarn bowl! A great convenience for work, but I'd have to have it on the floor or when I tugged on the yarn, I'd send it crashing.

Anonymous said...

WHEN will you learn to proofread mama? I told you last time that I would insert random words into your blog post but you did not heed my warning,potatoes,carrots,ha ha. I'm sorry for cluttering your post up with vegetables but I honestly didn't think they would get posted. Maybe you will pay attention and possibly proofread next time?
Watch out for turnips,

Anonymous said...

Mira cracked me up. I was hoping for a hidden contest and started playing "Spot the Veggies".

Yarn bowls are love.


Dani said...

I love! your yarn bowls! Especially the fish scale style one. And potatoes. Mmmmm ;)

Julia said...

Sneaky Mira.... I love your yarn bowls Jackie. I've never seen a yarn bowl before. Is this your idea?

Jackie said...

Not my idea at all, but Sarah was interested in a yarn bowl and where I was taking the class and wasn't quite sure what I was going to throw, I decided to make yarn bowls!