Back in June I was invited to an Open House at the Fairview pottery Studio. There were several potters around working on their projects; weighing their clay, throwing it on the wheel, setting it aside to dry to the first stage, scraped, smoothed, and thinned before firing. We also saw their set up for glazing and painting, the electric kilns, and racks of greenware waiting to be fired. They also had a display of pottery available for purchase, and a raku demonstration.
The potters had already created the bowls before we arrived, and had put them in the outdoor propane-fueled kiln. We ended up going away for an hour or so to do some shopping, and came back in time for the bowls to come out of the kiln. From there the potters pulled out a metal garbage can, donned special gloves and got enormous tools to pull the bowls out of the kiln one by one, and put them in the can, alternating with newspaper. “The combustible material results in smoke, which stains the unglazed portions of the pottery black.” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raku_ware
There was a lot of fire and smoke coming out of the garbage can, so the studio shut the doors so that the studio wouldn’t be filled with smoke. You couldn’t do this during the work week with lots of neighbors!
After smoking the pottery, the potters pulled out the bowls one by one, and put them in a large container of water. The water quickly cools the bowls – but the special clay for raku can tolerate the quick change of temperature. From there the potters started cleaning off the soot, and the beautiful bowls emerged.
… which I’ll show you in my next post!