Sunday, August 7, 2011

Raku is an ancient Japanese firing technique that is dramatic, intense and unpredictable. I know few things in art that thrill me more than Raku. On this clay piece I am using a low fire white clay body. There are clays that are just for rake, but this is the clay the studio I am taking classes in uses. The glazes are white crackle and sagent green. For those not familiar with pottery, glazes are almost like a ground glass...with silica and other ingredients. When the kiln is hot, the glaze literally melts over the clay. You can use matt or glossy glazes depending on the look you want.
I am not a professional potter, but an artist riding over a bridge taking a peak at a new media. I try to not think about how others approach clay, or what the rules are. I want to have fresh eyes and meet clay as if it is I just discovered it. Now what do I do, do I mold you, form you, stamp you, or sculpt you. I am not a craftsmen, there are many fine wheel throwers and hand builders out there. I am an explorer on a journey. There are many wonderful books, dvd's and websites on clay, some of which I will share later with you, but if you look at this piece you will see I am being the sculptor not the craftsmen.
I make my own clay stamps as you can see in the image above. I do not believe in using others images. Some do, I do not. I think other peoples art is theirs, and I want only my own..what I create, what my mind imagines. The black triangular area is where I tore newspapers and layer them on the surface of the pot, acting as a resist when I applied the glaze.
The crackles happen when the clay is taken out of a kiln red hot with iron tongs. As the rush of cooler air hits the surface, the shock to the clay is great. The glaze cracks. Then you put the clay in a pre prepared metal can that has torn newspaper. The searing hot clay ingrates the paper, the fire smokes and then you throw on a lid. The vacuum causes an oxygen reduction to happen forcing the black smoke into the cracks that were formed earlier.
Some glazes are different, like sagent green. With this glaze, you do not expose it to oxygen, you plunge it quickly into the metal can and if you are successful coppers, golds and bronzes appear. It is breath taking and stunning!!
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