Raku Weekend 19th-20th 2005
In the continuing series of Clay Monographs a Raku Weekend was held in the Odaka Highlands, Mie-ken, Central Japan. With potters and interested artists from Japan and abroad we got together to raku fire in a wood-fired cross draught kiln and kilns fired with gas and oil. An experimental firing was done for what I call "in-situ" firing which was also gas fired.
The weekend started with us firing the cross-draught kiln using the now classic glazes-Copper Ruby Lustre, a white glaze and a new Black Lustre. We also did Copper Matt and Naked Raku. Watanabe Akira from Ibaraki-ken very ably managed the wood firing showing us a technique that is used in Karatsu wood firing. He was quite surprised to see us easily reach 1150 and to continue reaching temperature once pots were removed from the kiln. Though not designed to reach higher temperatures he was convinced that 1200 was quite feasible. This was followed by firing in an updraught gas kiln where some spectacular results were achieved with Copper Matt and some beautiful results with the white glaze and Naked Raku. The following day we built an oil fired kiln in order to do Japanese style raku which is high fired and where reduction is done in the kiln. I used my ordinary black stoneware glaze for this. Fast-fire salt was demonstrated in the gas kiln but we could have done with more time and salt to get the proper salt glaze. It is called fast-fire because after salting the pieces are removed from the kiln as if it were a normal raku firing. A clay body made from a local refractory clay from Yokkaichi and a semi-porcelain fro Seto together with fine grog was used and which worked very well. We finished the day with the "in-situ" firing removing the top of the kiln and intervening with metallic salts and reduction with rice husk.
Attached below is a comment from one of the participants.
"I had so much fun at the workshop. Everything was perfect. The sensei, the location, the other participants, the food, the pots.....well those are pretty darn sexy. Those glazes are without question the most lovely raku glazes I have seen. I love the colours, the textures and they smell good and smokey as they sit on the kitchen table at my place. The workshop has been the highlight of my time in Japan. We look a little like Mr Toad with swirling eyeballs....we are mumbling "got to make more pots" and "Naked Raku"....to many raised eyebrows at the school. They just don`t get it!"
Pictures and report can be found here by Joe and Libby.
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