Raku is an ancient Japanese firing technique that was initially used to decorate ceramics used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.
This exciting process gives a unique and rustic crackle effect to the ceramic and glaze, it also often leaves beautiful flashes of copper in the finished piece.
Raku involves a rapid firing to 1000C, followed by placing the red hot ware into a metal drum filled with combustibles, such as sawdust, news paper or grass cuttings. This instantly bursts into flames.
The lid is then quickly closed to create a reduction and hence a crackle in the glaze. The fire and smoke then enhances these Crackles.
The piece is then plunged into cold water, creating a thermal shock, that crackles and crazes the glaze further and sets the effects.
Once cooled, a layer of black soot must be removed using wire wool. For me this is the most exciting part, as its when the soot is removed the beautiful Raku effects beneath are discovered.
No two pieces ever turn out the same!