Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Drama & Creation

Being a studio potter and making functional pottery can sometimes get a little repetitive. Not like production pottery where you often spend a week making only bowls or mugs. But always making functional, usable things does limit your creativity sometimes. When I start feeling the need for something a little more creative Raku is my answer.

Raku is a primitive firing process where pieces are heated in a kiln to around 1600 degrees. At top heat the piece is removed from the kiln and using tongs, placed in a container of combustibles. When the red hot pot is placed in the combustibles flames, ashes and smoke roll out like a volcano. It's very dramatic.

A lid is placed on the container causing an oxygen deprived atmosphere. The bare areas of clay absorbs the carbon from the air making them gray or black and the glazed areas undergo amazing transformations creating crackled or metallic surfaces that can be accomplished in no other way.

Most recently I've been doing a Raku technique known as Horsehair Raku. Instead of being placed in a container of combustibles, red hot pieces are draped with strands of horsehair. The horsehair singes, dancing on the hot surface, leaving curly, striking trails of black carbon on the white clay body.

A day of Raku brings some drama to the creative process, effectively erasing any of those repetitive feelings and renewing my pleasure in creating again. Of course it also earns me statements from my neighbors like "I thought the crazy pottery lady finally burned down her house".

What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?


Evie's Tool Emporium said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing Raku!

Sara said...

I just love the horse hair Raku. What an interesting process. Thanks for showing us how it all works!

trisha too said...

You crack me up. I actually wanted to dig a raku pit in our backyard, but we live so far out, the neighbors wouldn't notice the crazy lady . . . my stuff would look like trash next to yours, for sure, but it would be fun to try, right?

My recharge depends. Sometimes blog snooping, book and magazine reading, sometimes by trying something new.