Raku is the term given to this ancient Japanese technique which has its roots in the Tea ceremony. It involves the pots being fired first to a 1000 degrees, then glazed and placed again in the kiln following any conventional pottery or ceramic process. When the kiln temperature has again reached over 1000 degrees the red hot pots are taken out and are plunged into saw dust and finally immersed in water to cool.
The burning sawdust induces carbonization of the clay body and can produce beautiful lustres when metal oxides are used in the glaze and the rapid cooling produces the distinctive crackle glaze surface.
Raku pots have a timeless beauty and are highly prized in Japan and elsewhere. However they should not be used for food due to the risk of metal leaching.
I enjoy the whole process which takes me away from the monotony of tableware making as well as the experimental exciting and unpredictable aspect of the outdoor firing. Due to the nature and intricacy of the process, most pieces are unique and too often the amazing metallic effects and fine crackled glazes cannot be replicated exactly.
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