Experience the smoke and fire of a dynamic Raku firing method---A uniquely creative activity with a touch of food, fellowship and fun.
Raku Pottery was developed in Japan in the early 1500’s as the Ceremonial Tea Ware of the Zen Buddhist Masters. The word Raku is interpreted to mean enjoyment, serenity, contentment and freedom. It was preferred by the Masters because of its humility, tasteful unpretentiousness, simple naturalness, and its deliberate avoidance of luxury...all very important to the Zen philosophy.
Although contemporary artists have radically altered traditional Raku methods, many still refer to their new alternative firing techniques as Raku. It is a low-fired ware that is quite porous and seldom watertight. Raku’s primary utility or function is its elusive, subtle, yet vigorous beauty and therefore, must be approached with a different criterion in mind, like a painting or a symphony.
A bisqued (once-fired unglazed) pot is first coated with glaze and placed into a kiln. The kiln is then heated rapidly to about 1,900 degrees. It is this initial tremendous heat shock that often causes "body cracks" in the clay wall of a pot or even makes it explode. If the vessel survives this shock, almost immediate metamorphosis begins. The entire vessel glows red-hot and the glaze becomes molten glass.
At this point, the pot must endure a second shock as long-handle tongs are used to remove the glowing form from the inferno. As the cool air outside the kiln hits the glowing vessel, the severe temperature change may produce cracks in the glaze. These cracks are highly prized as characteristic of traditional Raku Pottery -- they are the "proof-marks" that the vessel survived this dramatic trial by fire.
Upon leaving the kiln, the gleaming pot is placed directly into an airtight container (a metal trash can) filled with combustible material (newspapers, sawdust, leaves, straw or wood chips). The unglazed areas smoke to a soft gray or black often highlighting the valued cracks in the glaze. Metallic oxides in the glaze become lustrous and are frequently brilliant in color. As if all this is not enough, the vessel (often still over 1,000 F) may then be plunged into cold water to halt the process and then finally cleaned with a hard bristle brushed or steel wool. And so the earth, fire, air and water process is complete.
The Raku Workshop experience for us at Schuler Arts is a dynamic venue for creative expression, personal growth, social interaction and spiritual connection. This extraordinary art event is exciting and fun to experience through active participation and collaboration in every phase of the artistic development and creative firing process. We hope that your Raku Workshop will rekindle your sense of passion, awe, and wonderment that is your natural, God-given condition.