Raku is a classification of ceramics that falls into the low fire range. The term “raku” describes the piece as well as the firing process used to create it. Originally developed in Japan as a technique for quickly producing small functional vessels. In Western civilization, because the process has been somewhat altered, raku ware is primarily created as decorative pottery.
The Raku Process
The most interesting aspect of the technique is that a piece is taken directly from the kiln into a raku pit while it is still very hot 1000°C.
The raku pit is lined with combustible materials such as saw dust, which immediately ignite. The pit is covered, and the resulting fire and smoke add a wide variety of finishes to the piece. The process is quick, exciting, and predictable only within a certain range of possibilities. The uniqueness or “one-of-a-kind” aspect of a raku piece is impossible to reproduce.
Oxides are widely used in the raw glaze and firings results in a range of colours from rich, deep turquoise to shiny bright copper or a mixture of both on one pot.
Hand Sketched Porcelain Tiles and Vessels
I like the qualities achieved by painting on to my work. Each piece is handmade and carved on using a technique called Scraffido which leaves me with texture and line. I paint on under-glaze colours, stains and oxides. The pieces are ready for the first firing, Bisque firing, at 1000 °C. After approximately 9 hours firing and left to codrawnol in the kiln for a further 12 hours, the kiln can be opened and the pieces are ready for glazing.
Tiles and vessels are painted and glazed using a mixture of commercial stains and glazes building up a rich and vibrant interpretation of the Irish landscape. The work is fired again in the kiln to 980-1300°C, temperature depending on the type of finish. Sometimes work is fired multiple times to achieve the desired effect.