LEARNING THE RAKU PROCESS AT RHS
(May 20, 2015) RHS art teacher Selena Pagliarulo hosted a ceramics workshop throughout the school day on May 20, 2015. Her students used the courtyard off the Commons area as a classroom where they did the firing work and learned the raku process of making pottery.
FROM RAKU FAQs: Raku is a pottery technique that has it's origins in 16th century Japan. The raku technique, like other pottery techniques such as salt glazing and pit firing, primarily revolves around it's firing process although involvement with raku often goes much deeper into its philosophy, roots, and cultural significance. Traditional raku and our western version of raku are similar in many ways though there are some significant differences.
In raku, the pieces may be loaded into a cold kiln but are often preheated and loaded into a hot kiln. The firing proceeds at a rapid pace with the wares reaching temperature in as short a cycle as 15-20 minutes (though raku firings can last up to several hours depending on the individual pieces and their firing requirements). Glaze maturity is judged by the trained eye without the use of cones or measuring devices. When the firing is determined to be completed the wares are immediately removed from the kiln. Since at this point the glaze is molten, tongs or other lifting devices are used.
This is the stage in the process where traditional and contemporary raku differ in technique and treatment. In our western version the wares are now treated to a 'post firing reduction' phase. The wares are put into a container with combustible material such as sawdust, or leaves and allowed to smoke for a predetermined length of time. The carbonaceous atmosphere reacts and affects the glazes and clay and imparts unique effects and surfaces to the wares. Some of these effects are metallic and crackled glazes surfaces and black unglazed clay. When the wares have cooled, they are washed with an abrasive cleaner to remove all residue of soot and ash, and to bring out the colors of the glaze that was applied earlier.
"This was a unique experience for my students, and they were all very excited," shared RHS art teacher Selena Pagliarulo. "We raised our own funds to pay for the workshop. It was really worth it!"
Gina Mars conducted the workshop. The link to Ms. Mars' website: (http://www.marspottery.net/) (Also see photo at the top of text.)