This Tuesday I was lucky enough to have a go at raku glazing. Unfortunately we were not given enough notice in order to create our own pieces of work for the session, but the technicians kindly found some discarded pieces we could use instead. We spent the first hour experimenting with glazes, each glaze had a sample next to it so we could get an idea of how it may turn out. After we applied the glazes, we put our pieces in a Raku kiln, which is a very different design to the big kilns for bisque firing, and which fires very quickly as well. Once the pieces were white hot (around 20-40 minutes) they were removed from the kiln and placed into a bin of dry material (sawdust, leaves, etc) to smoke, which is what creates the raku effect. After the pieces had finished smoking (around an hour) we removed them from the bins with tongs and submerged them in water to allow them to cool. After a gentle wash, the beautiful colours started to shine through from under the ash.
The process is very quick and exciting, producing erratic often random results. The unpredictable aspects of this method are what make it fascinating and the method allows you to be very hands on with the process. I am very pleased to have been introduced to this glazing process as it widens my choices when it comes to glazing options on future pieces.