107 s. water st., p.o. box 394 / bayboro, nc 28515-0394 / (252) 745-4749
Welcome to the Raku Gallery
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Raku is a centuries old Japanese tradition of making pottery. Raku means pleasure, happiness, contentment, and enjoyment. Each raku pot is handled individually throughout the process from raw clay to the finished pot, allowing a more intimate involvement with each vessel.
For the contemporary potter the glaze firing is the most exciting and dramatic phase of the Raku experience. The firing time is short, forty minutes to an hour, compared to 11 to 18 hours for a high fired stoneware cycle. The interior of the kiln is watched during the firing until the glaze is melted to roughly 1800 degrees. At that point the kiln is shut off and the red hot pottery, with molten glaze, is removed from the kiln with special gloves and tongs. I t is immediately placed in a bed of straw, newspaper, or other combustible material and allowed to smolder in an oxygen free atmosphere. This makes the clay body turn a rich black and glazes with metallic colorants turn to metallic luster in the smoky atmosphere. During this period the glaze cools faster than the clay body and crackles and cracks occur. The piece is then picked up with tongs and quenched in water to prevent further oxidation.
While westerners might summarily dismiss cracks in fine work as flaws,
Japanese potters often consider cracks for their aesthetic value as linear elements of the total composition.
As such, most contemporary Raku pottery is non-functional and prized as decorative pieces. The Raku process
subjects the clay to tremendous stress, from heating to cooling, and consequently the finished piece is fragile
and should be handled as fine glass.