Sunday, August 4, 2013

Day Five-- Raku

On the morning of day five, we opened the kiln and saw our beautiful, lustrous pieces. The inside of the kiln was still quite warm and you could hear a musical-like sound emanating from the fired pieces. It was a calming sound.  The pieces' bright colors showed well.

We spent most of the morning completing the Raku process. For our Raku pieces, we used a special glaze on day four.  For Raku, pieces are removed from the kiln while they are basically glowing from the intensity of the temperatures.  The piece is then put onto a "nest" of flammable material (in our case, we used newspaper shavings and wood shavings) and quickly covered. The result is a mixture of color and various "crackles" within the piece. Any parts of the piece that are not glazed will turn black during the Raku process.

When taking pieces out of the kiln during the Raku process, pieces can be as hot as 2100 degrees Fahrenheit. We all had to wear protective goggles and gloves. Deborah and two brave volunteers from our group, Sarah and Christine, also wore "leathers" to protect their bodies. Their task was to use tongs and take the pieces out of the kiln.

Once the pieces started coming out of the kiln, the process was exciting and scary. Some of the more oddly shaped pieces were especially difficult to handle with the tongs. I give Sarah, Jennifer, and Meghan so much credit for volunteering to take the pieces out of the kiln. Being that I am accident-prone (case in point: I once deeply cut my hand by trying to open a coffee can), I did not volunteer to take the pieces out of the kiln.

Below are photos of the Raku process. Please note: photos 1-8 were taken by Jenifer Simon. She's a stealthy photographer; she took so many pictures during aTi, but I didn't even realize she took them until they were posted online!

aTi All Things Clay: Back row: Sarah, me, Karen, Barbara-Jill, Jenifer, Tracey, Sue
Front row: Christine, Meghan, Deborah
I'm not wearing my goggles in the photo because they made me look like a Power Ranger. In retrospect, maybe that isn't such a bad thing! 

Our "nests" are ready...

Our pieces "glowing;" this kiln has a crank-style function on the side so that you can open it during the firing process...

Deborah, our fearless leader, taking some of the pieces out of the kiln. Notice how they colors have changed, as the glazes start showing. 

Some of us made "nests" in trash cans instead of in the sandbox. 
Deborah putting Karen's piece down onto the nest. I am next in life after Karen, but you can't really see me. The Raku process both amazed and terrified me. I stood still for most of the time :)

Once the piece begins to smoke and fire, you cover it. The more time you take to cover it, the less variety of "crackles" and abstractness you will get. 
I forget whose piece this was, but it is simply stunning. The iridescence and total array of colors is lovely; some portions of the piece turned black since the artist chose to not glaze those portions. The multi-colored look is due in part to the glaze. Many of the other glazes were much more subtle colors.

This is another piece from someone in my class. Its color is due to the choice of glaze. The Raku process creates the crackles and abstractions (hard to see in this pic).

This is my finished glaze. Keep in mind that I am a BEGINNER and am not an art teacher :) From this vantage point, you an see the crackles around the face. Around the eyes and mouth, the Raku process created a coppery look. 

This is a side view of my fish. 

This is the bottom of the fish. The coppery tone tells you that the bottom of this piece had flames hitting it for longer than other portions of the piece.

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