Aditional content

Raku firing

This post is a short explanation of the history and process of raku firing- the reduction firing of ceramics, originating from XVII. Century Japan (the name raku derives from a very successful family/clan of ceramicists, called Raku). In that time in the West, our tables were filled with whiteness of porcelain. The spirit of raku ware is the opposite- it is about simplicity, imperfection, closeness to shadow and darkness, mysterious rather than plane, with meditative beauty and uniqueness of every piece. Raku ware is something you can’t grasp momentarily with your sight alone- you have to feel it. Touch the cup’s porous surface, smell and taste the content and allow yourself to be elevated by the following:

“Raku is when the Universe is in the teabowl”

 

Yakinuki-type black Raku tea bowl by Raku Kichizaemon XV, 2012. Collection of National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

 

What you will see on added photos is but a Europeanized technique. The technique developed from the practice of Bernard Leach, who brought the knowledge of Japanese ceramics to Europe at the start of XX. Century. The technique bears the same name, but has in fact little to do with the ancient practice.

 

The process starts with bisque fired pieces, being heated in the kiln.

 

Pieces are then taken out of the kiln at about _ degrees Celsius and are put in the reduction chamber of some kind- ours was a covered bin, containing sawdust. Water can b e sprinkled on the glazed surface for grater shock and consequent visual effects.

Finally, pieces are taken out of bins and cleaned. The whole process takes a lot of time, especially waiting for the temperature to rise and is done easier by a group. The need for common effort and the bringing-together it does is a part of its charm. The final steps are made quickly and with focus. After the pieces cool, they need to be rinsed thoroughly- a very rewarding process of slow discovery of your little piece of the Universe.

 

foto: Maruša Mazej

Most of my ceramics work from my portfolio was made with this firing technique: Urns; Series The Birth of Vulture.

 

 

Participants in the firing in Vrhnika, 2016: Vasja Stojanovski, Špela Šedivy, Deja Hauptman, Katja Orličnik, Eva Janeš, Maruša Mazej

Thanks to Vasja, the leader, for his willingness to participate!

 

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