Raku Ceramics Process - End Results

So here we are at the end of this run of posts & below are some of the wonderfully colourful pieces that have emerged from this process.

I hope you have enjoyed reading these & do come into one of our shops in Schull, Kinsale or the Café & Gardens in Ahakista to see them in all their glory.

Raku Ceramics Process - Stage 4 - Dunking & Cleaning

Here is our penultimate blog on our Raku ceramics process. 

This stage is to 'dunk' the item in cold water and clean with a stiff brush or some kind of abrasive material to remove the ash.

Due to the thermal shock of the temperature changes, it results in a wonderful cracking appearance so characteristic of Raku, as well as some amazing metallic effects which you can see from the pictures below.

Next week we will have some fully cleaned up Raku pieces.

Cat going in the tub

Mice going in the tub

Fish going for a swim !

Hen in the tub

Large fish in the tub

Tortoise fancied a paddle too !

Mouse scrubbing up nicely

All clean & sparkly

Raku Ceramics Process - Stage 3 - Firing

Now we get to the really exciting part of the Raku process where we start to see the results of the firing which uses both smoke & fire to achieve it's unique qualities.

The firing in a Raku kiln takes approximately 30 minutes at 1800°F.

Using tongs, the pieces are removed from the kiln when at it's highest temperature (which differs from other firing methods) & are placed in some form of metal reduction chamber such as a rubbish bin. This has to be done very quickly.

The items are covered immediately in a flammable material such as natural wood sawdust as seen in our process (newspaper, cardboard or leaves can also be used), to inhibit the absorption of oxygen to the molten enamel. The smoke from these materials contributes to changing the colours and patterns of the Raku pottery. The fire feeds on the oxygen within the metal container plus it also draws the oxygen out of the Raku pottery & it's glaze. 

You can see from the pictures below how this is all starting to come about.

Mice heading for the fire

Mice in the fire

Hen & fish in the fire

Tortoise going in
Shavings going in
Smoking big fish !

Next week we will bring you the next stage of 'dunking' & cleaning off.

Raku Ceramics Process - Stage 2 - Glazing

This week we have some pictures showing the glazing process which takes place after the bisque firing.

Glazing work for Raku can be done by various methods - dipping, pouring, brushing, spraying, splashing, dripping, sponging. We brush on our glaze using a combination of glazes to give vibrant contrasts of colour.  Some Raku glazes produce cracking and result in a spider webbing effect. You can also combine both a glazed and unglazed natural smoky effect on the pottery.

The application of a glaze has a direct effect on the end result & although we may intend a certain type of final effect there are no guarantees & it is always exciting to see the end product. This is also why the meaning of Raku is 'Happiness in the accident'.

Next week we'll look at the second firing & see how some of the items turn out.

A kiln full of bisqued ware to be glazed

A lavender pouch

Glazing a large seahorse

Glazing a tile

Rosie glazing

Raku Ceramics Process - Stage 1 - Design Creation

Many of my customers ask how my Raku ceramics are made, so I have created this new blog to show the process. I will be updating the blog with pictures on a weekly basis.

These ones show the tools that we use, the cutting out of the clay, the designing, the drying process & the first firing. The overall process is quite lengthy but also very rewarding & therapeutic.

The bisque firing is the first of two firings. The goal of bisque firing is to convert greenware (unfired pottery which is very fragile) to a durable, semi-vitrified porous stage where it can be safely handled during the glazing and decorating process.

Check my next blog next week for Stage 2 - Glazing

Clay tools

Cutting out the template

Big Fish drying

New style fish drying

Rosie at work
A successful bisque firing