Raku is an exciting firing process…if not a bit hair raising at times!
I fire my kiln using a specialist gas burner that brings the kiln to temperature at a rapid rate- turning up the gas every 10 minutes to get to over 1000 degrees.
At that point the glaze on the work inside has melted and we are ready to go.
The kiln is lifted off revealing the glowing red hot ceramics. I grab the tongs and carefully pick up a piece, transferring it to a metal container of wood chipping where my helper throws on handfuls of more wood chipping’s while I go back for the next one.
I work as quickly as possible, trying not to drop them or knock against another one, because the work is cooling rapidly and can easily crack if left for too long to cool.
After all the work is in the container it is sealed creating a reduction atmosphere- that,s a reduction of oxygen caused by the burning of the wood chippings. This produces the beautiful iridescent lustre copper and silver glazes.
After about 10 minutes I then fish around in the wood chippings using the tongs to pull out each piece and dunk them into a bucket of water which rapidly cools the work freezing any colour changes in the glazes.
The work at this stage looks like something burnt on the barbecue, but after a good clean the glazes are revealed. Every time the fire has worked its magic and no two pieces are ever the same.