RAKU WORKSHOP

2016/2019 Corwin-Russell School

2020 Waldorf High School of Massachusetts Bay

Funded by MCC STARS Residency grants

In collaboration with David LaPierre

Raku is a fast and exciting firing process, where the glazes move quickly through different temperatures and atmospheres. The pots are heated in a kiln, until it is glowing hot and the glazes are melting, approximately 1850 degrees. At this point, the kiln is opened and the work is removed with tongs and placed into a metal container filled with combustible materials. The heat of the pot ignites the combustibles and the container is capped. The fire inside the container burns away all oxygen and creates a reduction, or carbon filled atmosphere. The carbon interacts with the glaze chemistry and  darkens any unglazed clay. For example, a copper heavy glaze may change from turquoise to a lustery copper red, a white glaze may develop a spider web of black crackle, as ash is embedded in cracks formed by the temperature change when the pots are removed from the kiln.

The raku residencies explore the science and aesthetics of this firing process. The students are taught several hand-building techniques and have the time to build several pieces to experiment with. They are encouraged to create work for themselves as well as pieces, which will be incorporated into larger community projects. The firing process is always a great team building event. Each student has a role in the process, there is fire and quick results to review together. These residencies are science in action, resulting in beautiful art installations for the school.