Raku is the fastest and possibly most dramatic method of firing ceramics. It is a technique created for the vessels of the Japanese Tea Ceremony.
Bisque ware is fired up to approximately 1000°C. in less than an hour – a normal glaze firing takes between 10-12 hours.
Once the pots are glowing hot, they are removed from the kiln using long tongs and placed into bins containing combustable material, e.g sawdust. The temperature of the pots drop dramatically before they are covered, causing ‘thermal shock’. This manifests itself in the form of very fine cracking in the body of the clay that is characteristic of Raku.
The carbon created by the flames in the sawdust turns the unglazed parts of the pot black and also highlights the cracking in the glaze. A reduction enviroment is also produced. It possible to achieve fantastic copper and turquoise (elusive!) colours, but it is literally a black art and each pot that emerges is always intriguing.