Wood-fire & Raku Pottery

It’s so heartwarming to me that my heart warms when I think of the whole process of creating wood-fired pottery. In addition, I’ve tasked myself with doing some RAKU pottery, mainly because of the mystery of the results, experience from a recent alternate-firing class at Clayscapes Pottery, but also because a cool friend gave me some horsehair so I could do some Horsehair pottery!

Horsehair Raku Pottery Inspirations

It’s 2020 and life threw me some lemons, so I’ve been making lemonade but my mind daydreams often of making pottery.

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Raku Pottery Kiln

The first few months of this year has been focused on PREPARING to do a RAKU session – figuring out how many pieces to make to maximize the my first full raku session (2 kiln firings), then creating, burnishing, bisquing, etc. During this time doing research on the RAKU process and options – what materials to purchase (tongs, gloves, sand, turnstyle, glazes, etc), what glaze options for non-horsehair pieces, getting feathers, etc. During this time also thinking of learning enough to try doing my own RAKU with a DIY kiln or outright purchase of a RAKU kiln. Time will tell.

UPDATE! 07/01/2020

A friend gifted me with an old electric kiln. I plan to convert to a Raku kiln! Grateful and honored be I ❤

Currently I purchased a burner, a pyrometer, ceramic fiber board (to be used with the deteriorating lid, maybe), a drill bit to make a burner hole. Next is to remove the elements, fill in any soft firebrick gaps, make holes (burner, flue) and buy a couple propane tanks and fuel.

Next is to build a small wood ramp to get the kiln outside and then fashion a sandpit area where I will do the reduction using upside down metal cans!

Upside Down Cans via Artifacts By Design

Of course I’ll have the usual trash can with combustible materials on hand to give that a try too!

Ammunition Cases with Wood Shavings via Upwey Potters

Raku firing - covering the pottery pieces in sawdust and paper and a can.
Ceramics: It’s Just Dirt

Wood-fired Pottery Musing

The next phase of my daydreaming is creating pieces for this year’s woodfiring! I love doing mugs and lidded jars for this. 30 pieces is a goal, 40 pieces is a bonus, and 50 pieces would be a hoot!

  • Nice web posting regarding the wood-fire process, the basics, the job duties, the spirit of, etc: Monroe Clay Works


So while I drink lemonade from life’s lemons I allow myself to giggle inside like a little kid, at the thoughts of doing these 2 kiln firings: RAKU and Woodfire.

Right now I won’t over analyze why I have giggle-ness, I’m just allowing myself to enjoy it.

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Horsehair Raku Pottery #Appreciation visit @Oneidasharkpottery

For Sake’s Sake


Sake Anyone?

We thought it would be nice to create a Sake set for my youngest stepson. I created 4 sets and offered him his choice of a bottle and 2 sake cups.  I decided to enter one of the Sake sets that he did not chose into my company’s Employee Art & Literary Show… and won 1st Place in the Craft Category! What great fun and exciting experience.


1st Place – Sake Set

Personal Relationship with the Matter World

I heard these words, “Personal Relationship with the Matter World” from a recent YouTube video from Linda Moulton Howe (conversation at 39 mins 14 secs) and it resonated with me right then, right there. I felt a harmonious connection with those words and our recent Wood-firing event – – because creating pottery with a wood-fired kiln process is really, as artist, instructor, and amazing soul Wes Weiss recently said, it’s a “Labor of Love“.



Here are some photos from the 2018 wood-firing May 18-May 20.




a removable or hinged cover for closing the opening, usually at the top, of a pot, jar, trunk, etc.; a movable cover.


Cups, mugs, jar, teapots, vases, boxes – oh my! Put a lid on it LOL


My master teacher Millie St. John directed us to focus on lids this semester at Clayscapes Pottery. There are myriad types of lids to play with, to create, to use – all based on one’s intent.  I’ll show pics of lids I made, and hopefully lids other students made this year. In the mean time here is a series of photos of Millie making a lid.

1.  In addition to enjoying learning about and making different types of lids I also thought I’d create pieces for the upcoming wood-firing.  One rule I forgot was that for wood-fired pieces, the lid should extend beyond the lip.  Perhaps like these (photos courtesy of The Spruce):

When it was time for wood-firing I acknowledged the error of my ways several times… a lesson learned.


2. The other thing I was interested in trying was combining my finished pieces with a crystal or stone. Here are the wood-fired finished pieces that were fashioned with a crystal or stone fully with mindfulness and sage.

hand-crafted pottery with crystals and stones

Mindfulness & Heart Intent -OneidaShark Pottery

Wood Fired Fun

This year’s wood firing fun has concluded! What a ride it’s been.  I plan to docu package everything.  In the meantime here are some snapshots of today’s unloading of the Kiln. 

Christmas Wishes

A very good family friend loves soup.

I thought I’d design some bowls with a Ukrainian Easter Egg inspired theme.  After researching the meaning of the symbols I realized that maybe less is more? So I focused on good health (wheat, pine needles, grapes), Christ (rose star, fish, fishing nets), and spiritual growth/prayer (ladder), and everlasting life (wave/curls). I even included stars.  Hopefully these bowls turn out well, as the intent of the decorations are my Christmas Wishes for my friend and for everyone.

Merry Christmas!

The bowls pictured have the designs in black, red, and yellow underglaze, all covered in Crystal Clear glaze. They should be ready in time for a holiday delivery. I’ll post the resulting photos once they come out of the kiln.

The bowls came out in time for a Christmas delivery! Two bowls were chosen: the cross of red in center (top left) and the cross of yellow in center (bottom)

I researched the symbols used on Ukrainian Easter Eggs and settled on just a handful that resonated (and that I could try my hand at). One of the resources used was a lovely find, “Pysanky Symbols“: http://bookczuk.blogspot.com/2015/02/2015-version-of-pysanky-symbols-chart.html, created by Amy Romanczuk. According to the blogspot, “Amy Romanczuk is an artist and retired pediatric nurse in Charleston, SC. She is self-taught pysanky writer of Ukrainian heritage. Several of her original design pysanky were accepted into the collection of Museum of Ukrainian Decorative Folk Arts in Kyiv, as representational from artists outside Ukraine.”



Cairns Teapot and Teachers

Staying on the Path

The enthusiasm of a teacher is priceless. Seeing and feeling the love a teacher as he or she shares passion or joy about a subject can propel a normally shy kid to ask questions or conduct further research at home on Google, or even step to the front of the class forever changing his or her life. This is what happened this year regarding teapots and…. cairns.

Cairn: Per Wikipedia, a cairn is a human-made pile (or stack) of stones.

Image result for cairn

The word cairn comes from the Scottish Gaelic: càrn (plural càirn). In modern times, cairns are often erected as landmarks, a use they have had since ancient times. However, since prehistory, they have also been built and used as burial monuments; for defense and hunting; for ceremonial purposes, sometimes relating to astronomy; to locate buried items, such as caches of food or objects; and to mark trails, among other purposes.

To me the cairn illustrates the importance of Staying on the Path.

My pottery teacher is a master potter. He is world re-known for his art, has exclusive clients, and most of all he teaches what he loves and loves what he teaches. This year his students were asked to create a series of pieces that tie-in somehow with one another.  I completed my assignment, starting with these concepts: earthy, elemental, chakras and concluding with geology, rocks, and cairns! Making rocks isn’t as easy as you would initially believe. I had a great time exploring the nature of rocks, type of rocks, rock history, even rock stories and questions, including How did that rock end up like that? What forces affected the shape and texture? Any fossils in those rocks? and so on.


At the conclusion of class I had created an incense burner that had a large rock base with a deep well (almost like a water collector but works to hold the ashes), a pot with a cairn lid topper, and a teapot, all with the cairn theme.  All conveying that important message: Stay on the Path.

Now here’s the thing, I never made a teapot before (or an incense holder and am new at making lids); however for some reason I was compelled to make a teapot. I don’t drink tea often.  In fact I didn’t even know the difference between a tea kettle and a teapot.  BTW, in the U.S.A., a tea kettle is a vessel for boiling water for tea, while a teapot is a vessel for brewing and serving tea. However I do know that there is an ART to enjoying tea – from selecting the type of leaf to make the tea from, to the temperature of the boiling water, to how long and how the tea seeps, and so on. Yes I do have an awareness of the art but I am not fully knowledgeable nor practiced to any great extent.  Yet here I jumped in with both feet to make my first tea pot  – with the cairn concept.

 Here is where I share with you that the teapot I made, with the cairn theme, is a soulful and artistic expression combining the cairn message and the ART of enjoying tea. This teapot was also created without me providing any heads-up to my instructor, who by the way is very well know for making amazing teapots.  So as you can imagine, when I readied my pre-bisqued piece i received ‘The Look‘.

So here it is, my artistic expression of combining the Art of Tea with cairns, a.k.a. Staying on the Path:


Can you see the cairns?