Raku firings began in Japan in the 16th century.  It was a firing process used by the Kichizaemon Raku family to make bowls for the Japanese tea ceremony.  Ironically, tea bowls made with this process are now considered to be unsafe for food.  The firing process often uses glazes that leach into food or that produce cracks on the surface, which can fill with food particles and bacteria.  Even so, the results of a Raku firing can be stunningly beautiful in either a simple, understated way or with vibrant colors.

Raku firing is itself exciting, and gives instant gratification or heartache to the potter.  Pots are placed in a kiln and fired to about 1800 degrees Fahrenheit, considered a low fire technique.  When the glazes have melted, the pots are pulled out with tongs from the glowing kiln and cooled quickly in the air or in a cold water bath.  Of course, the quick changes in temperature cause some pots to break.  Hence, the heartache.  In the 1960’s an American potter, Paul Solder, began taking pieces from the kiln and placing them in a bucket with paper or sawdust.  When the paper catches fire, reduction in air supply adds another dimension to the beauty of the pots.  This is the technique I use when I do a Raku firing.

About Linda

Linda is a potter.