Pottery has caught my fascination in the past couple of years. One of the most interesting things I did was to attend a Raku workshop organized by my guru, Shehlaji at her studio cum residence in Gurgaon. Here are some notes.
Raku About Raku
A quick firing method of thrown or hand built pottery or clay sculptures. We had the privilege to attend a workshop with Maneesha Bhattacharya a well known Raku potter, the 2 day workshop was a lot of fun. We already had bisque pots prepared with special clay that has 7% sand added to the regular stoneware clay. Maneesha took us through a presentation first where she shared some of her and other Raku artist work.
We then cleaned and glazed our pots with the special Raku glazes.
The firing involved
- Loading the kiln so that the pots did not touch each other on the bat. Raku kiln is like an oven that you could keep in your backyard, with fibre lining inside and a lid on top with a peephole in it. There is a burner fuelled by a gas cylinder with a regulator that controls the pressure with which the gas is released.With experience one can keep turning up the flame to raise the tempereature further.the trick is to keep the cylinder warm if the temp falls, it could burst.
- As the temperature rises to about 8oo degrees celsius and above ,the glaze begins to melt like chocolate sauce. one has to keep looking at it through the peephole carefully as the heat can actually singe your eye lashes and skin.
- Once the glaze has melted, the flame is turned off and the kiln is allowed to cool.
- We kept bins with oxidising material ready to put the pots in once taken out of the kiln. The bins had
- dried leaves
- wood shavings
all of the above reduce the glaze in a different way and give varied results to the glazes.
Safety measures to be taken while using a Raku kiln
- The apparatus has to be tested and fullproof
- Wearing full arm canvas gloves is advisable
- use tongs that have a good grip
- Bins have to be kept covered with lids as the hot pots can cause the flame to escape
The results of the Raku firing were mixed as some glazes matured better than the others...