Monthly Archives: January 2010

The Raku Pottery technique

Raku Buddha by thebuddhabuilderThe Buddhabuilder

The word “raku” means “happiness in the accident.” I have also seen an interpretation that says it is derived from the Kanji character meaning “enjoyment” or “ease”. Originally created for the Korean tea ceremony, this technique was subsequently found by ceramic adherents in the sixteenth century in Japan, where the great masters such as Sen no Rikyu were able to give full scope to the art based on a particular process: the fast removal of the piece from the furnace and covering it with flammable materials like natural wood sawdust to inhibit the absorption of oxygen to the molten enamel, which produced the characteristic cracking effect from the thermal shock. Also the colors were rendered with a more metallic appearance . The process of Raku firing differs from other firing methods because the pots are removed from the kiln at their maximum temperature.

The unique look of  Japanese Raku pottery is achieved by utilizing  both smoke and fire in the Raku kiln to create an unpredictable and unique style. Firstly the pottery is bisque fired , than glazed and fired in a Raku Kiln followed by enhancement in a reduction chamber. As opposed to normal pottery firing where the wares cool down slowly in the kiln and removed with gloves, Raku ware is removed immediatly with tongs. In the traditional Japanese firing process, the pot is removed from the  kiln while it is still glowing from the heat and put directly into water or allowed to cool in the open air

Glazing : Raku pottery can be produced from any clay, but if you use the special Raku clay it is more suited to withstand higher temperatures and thermal shock. After placing the completed piece in a kiln and firing it, you apply the Raku glaze by either spaying, brushing or sponging .  Some of the Raku glazes produce cracking and result in a spider webbing effect. Also you can combine both a glazed and unglazed natural smokey effect on the pottery

Raku Pottery Kiln

Removal of raku pottery from a kiln at la porte du soleil, Paris


Raku Firing : The first step of bisque firing hardens the clay and needs a level of at least clone 08. Then the glaze is applied and virtually any low temperature glaze is appropriate for Raku. The next step is to fire in a Raku kiln ( F 1800 ) and leave for around 30 minutes before placing in the reduction chamber. A metal can with a lid can be used for this stage, even a metal rubbish bin will work ok and  the pottery can remain in this chamber for  15 to 90 minutes. Combustible material such as wood, newspaper, cardboard and dried leaves can be used, they all produce a different effect. The smoke from these  materials all contribute to changing the colors and patterns of the Raku pottery. As the fire consumes the oxygen within the can, it also draws the oxygen out of the raku pottery and its glaze. This process is called post fire reduction. It is the post fire reduction stage that creates the unique look of raku pottery. The unpredictability of the process is essentially the result of the removal of oxygen in the reduction chamber. 

Raku reduction Flaming

Raku reduction on a bed of vegetable matter


The final stage is to dunk the piece in cold water and clean with a stiff brush or some abrasive material to remove the ash. Raku pottery is mainly used for decoration rather than being functional.

Raku pottery was first developed by Japanese potters in the 16th century and it still holds a mystique and is embraced by amateur and professional potters till this day. The appeal was heightened in Japan when the ware was created for use in Japanese tea ceremonies.

Raku Pottery Jug by Jason Outlaw

Raku Pottery Jug in Copper with glass melted over handles – Jaaon Outlaw

Jason Outaw and Rosalie De Fini Outlaw Raku planter

Wheel Thrown Raku Pottery by Jason Outaw and Rosalie De Fini Outlaw of Outlaw Pottery

 Onion Shaped Raku Vase Red Crow Pottery

 Onion Bulb Shaped Raku Pottery Vase

Red Crow Pottery – Judy – flickr

Hand carved Fuscia Vessel by Christopher Mathie

 Hand-carved Fuscia Vessel – Christopher Mathie

Western Raku pottery vase

A vase glazed and fired using the Western Raku technique, showing the soot, crackle glazing, and random oxidation typical of this pottery form.

Ryonyu chawan

A red and black Raku chawan made by (and featuring the mark of) Ryonyu XI, potter of the 9th generation of Ryonyu potters. 

Museum of Fine Arts, Lyon, France

la porte du soleil raku vessel

la porte du soleil

More Raku see French Raku Studio

Julie Risak hand-built teapot

Julie Risak’s hand-built teapot.

K,Winograde Pit fired raku vase

K.Winograde Vase

Elizabeth Ritter raku horse

An Elizabeth Ritter Raku Sculptured Horse

Raku Copper Matt Bottles by Chris Hawkins

Hand thrown raku fired fumed copper matt bottles

Chris Hawkins

Raku ceramic sculpture figure 41 Torso 12 - Anthony Anderson

41 Torso 12 – Anthony Anderson

Raku torso with Copper Sand glaze. ceramic sculpture figure

 Dancer Raku fired figurine, Charlotte Munning

“The Dancer”

Raku fired figurine, Charlotte Munning


Raku Jar alcohol fumed-Nick LaFone

Raku Jar alcohol fumed – Nick LaFone

Odyssey Center -River Arts

Raku Bottle with incisions  – Lori Duncan

‘ Good Samaritan ‘ – Christopher Mathie

 Red Raku Vessel by Christopher Mathie

Christopher Mathie – Rich red raku vesselGina Mars - Raku Fired Vessel

My latest inspiration comes from middle eastern architecture. The pieces have minaret like tops on them and some are covered in gold or copper leaf. I also enjoy adding sculptural elements to my work.–

Gina Mars

Marianne Wulffraat-Keramic Jar

Marianne Wulffraat-Kerami

Raku Vase – Manor Loft

 Raku Aligator Pillow - Gise Trauttmansdorff

Raku fired Aligator Pillow – Gise Trauttmansdorff


Hagi yaki ware Japanese tea bowl – Raku chawan – Keizo Takeshita

Janet Mansfield raku vessel

Janet Mansfield

John Kellum raku teapot

John Kellum raku teapot




The magic of Moorcroft

Moorcroft poppy series

I have always loved Moorcroft designs, they are very distinctive and usually charactarized  by an Art Nouveau influence , especially their hand decorated Florian Ware. William Moorcroft’s first production was in 1897 when he was working for James McIntyre  The flambe, high temperature glazing techniques he pioneered with his father produced rich, deep and vibrant colours.In 1905 he established his own business and production flourished.

Moorcroft ware is aimed at the luxury end of the collector and gift markets, and are regarded  as a worthy acquisition. They have a high secondary market value. In the sphere of collecting they always perform solidly and some pieces have appreciated in value by 50% in 6 years. The fact that they are hand crafted and possess distinct  individuality maintains their ongoing appeal.

The Victoria & Albert museum has joined many other national museums in holding significant pieces of Moorcroft pottery in their permanent collections.

Maureen & Hugh Edwards currently have had  sole ownership of Moorcroft since 1993 and they support the strong design ethic of  this unique company.

Over the past nine years Moorcroft’s international profile has grown enormously, both in quality and in perceived value.

Auctioneers Christies hold a dedicated Moorcroft sale each year.

 Moorcroft Anna Lily Vase

.Moorcroft pomegranate vaseMoorcroft  “Pomegranate”


Hibiscus Cobalt Vase

QueensChoiceSpecial Queen’s Choice Special. Designed by Emma Bossons


  Moorcroft Mayfly vase
Moorcroft  Mayfly vase
Handpaint Moorcroft "Tiger Lily" plate Hand painted Moorcroft “Tiger Lily ” vase

Moorcroft Moonlight Blue vaseMoorcroft Moonlight Blue Vase

Moorcroft Hand Painted Clematis tube lined plate

Green Glaze Mushrooms

Flambe Fresia  12.5 inches tall

Designed by Beverly Wilkes


Beverley Wilkes design ( Denhams )



Drying Pottery

General guidelines for drying pottery:

– Even, slow drying is preferred
– Pottery should be bone dry before attempting any firing. Any presence of moisture will increase the likelehood of cracking.
– hunid air flow is ideal because it adheres to the surface more evenly , especially the recessed areas. This can be achieved by enclosing a section of the studio/plant with plastic to create a humidity chamber, the wet ware creating a naturally humid enviroment.  With smalll scale operations, covering the ware racks with cloth or plastic is a viable option.
-Make sure pots are positioned so ther air circulates freely around them.
-Depending on the style  of piece being dried ( eg. complex shapes ), the placement , air flow adjustment and covering of fast drying areas with wax,  all support eveness of drying.
-it can take several days for ware to dry  in a natural enviroment( 2 days for a dessert bowl )
– If you don’t have a +100°C drying chamber, your kiln is the final stage batch drier. The addition of air flow to remove excess moisture could be considered. This can be achieved with a venting system.
–  A consant air flow  is needed  along with tuning the humidity by adjusting the dry air rate in and the humid airflow out. Otherwise , slower drying in a humidity chamber is an acceptable alternative.
– Due to its higher density, you cannot expect porcelain to dry as well as stoneware or earthenware.
-Pots made in one piece may be dried more quickly, but should be turned upside down if possible as soon  as they have hardened a bit. If they can’t be turned upside down, set them on a drywall ( sheetrock, gypsum board, wall board ) or plaster to allow their bottoms to dry evenly.
-Handle bone dry pieces carefully as the have a tendancy to crack easily due to their brittleness prior to firing.
– If a piece looks dry but is cool to the touch this sometimes indicates it is still moist and continued evaporation is needed.

Nepal market
Green Vase
Nazla, Egypt — A potter at work in the village of Nazla, an Egyptian village in the Fayyum known for its pottery. — Image
drying pottery