Raku Explained

     Raku is a flash firing technique in which each piece is removed from the kiln red hot, and plunged into a steel barrel packed with dried leaves, twigs, pine cones, etc.. These combustibles burst into flames, then the lid is slammed shut quickly before the energy dissipates. In the intense heat, the glaze surfaces react dramatically to the chaotic atmosphere trapped inside the barrel, which is kept tightly sealed until cool. Once cool, I brush off the ashes, and the finished piece is revealed.

       I take many precautions, including a 2500 gallon water tank elevated 40 feet uphill, and a fire hose to pre-soak the surrounding area. Still, the open flame and smoke are unacceptable during the dry season. On Monday, 9/16/19, we had an early season deluge, over an inch of hard rain. I threw these 8 pieces on Tuesday morning, and force-dried them that night. We had a steady rain Wednesday afternoon, the 18th, so I fired this first raku load of the season.

       Fresh raku can be identified by the smell of smoke, which it retains for a month or two. In order to withstand the heat shock of this procedure, the pieces need to be quite porous, which renders them delicate, and not water tight. They are indoor pieces, best for dry arrangements, although they can be easily lined for fresh flowers. 

       I will bring all 8 of these to the Santa Clara Farmers' Market this Saturday, September 21, along with 100 or so pieces of this week's porcelain. Geri and I will be moving our son, Emmett, into the Dormitory at UC Davis this Sunday, September 22, so we will not be setting up the display this Sunday. We are very proud, with a twinge of Empty Nest.