Raku Firing

This past weekend the weather cleared after all that rain and we took the opportunity to do a Raku Firing for artist Damien Flood who had been inquiring about doing a raku. He has graciously given me permission to share some images and video (!) from the day. We loaded his prepared ceramics into the kiln for the first of 2 firings that afternoon.

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Our raku setup is quite minimalist but it does get the job done! One gas fired kiln made from an oil barrel, a few kiln shelves for placing hot items on, and a metal bin with lid to act as the smoker. Oh, and a big bag of sawdust.

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Looking through the vent at the top of the kiln we could keep an eye on the progress of the firing. When the pottery starts to glow and the glaze starts to shine you know it is ready. I love how the eyes are glowing in this skull headed figure!

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Once the ceramics are lifted into the smoker and covered in a decent layer of sawdust we then left it to smoke for about 15 minutes.

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An angry fellow popping up out of the ashes.

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When they are first lifted out of the smoker they are all covered in ashes and other debris. Nothing a gentle wash won’t fix. Any area that wasn’t glazed has lovely black and brown swirls from the fire. The glazed pieces develop large “crazed” cracks in the glaze which the smoke then fills with black. The pot in the front right also developed a very interesting crocodile skin texture on the glaze.

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After a quick wash the raku is more obvious. The female figure has a lovely result where right at the hairline the colour transitions from black on her face to brown on her hair. You couldn’t have planned it better, just another very happy accident of the process. Well done Damien!

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James Hayes