We survived the self quarantine. My heart and humility goes out to those who died or knew someone who died of Covid-19. Our lives were turned askew. We went through confusion, fear, depression and ultimately (hopefully) reconnected or connection with God and our higher power and Universe (deep self reflection). We are new survivors!
As states started to reopen in phases I found myself being gifted with kilns, as the universe heard my desire (or I fell in tune with my universal fate/destiny/path) to do some alternative pottery firings! I did purchase some hard refractory bricks.
After a recent class at the Clayscapes Pottery studio that focused on Alternative Firing methods I was keen on doing some more Raku, specifically Horsehair pieces.
In the process of getting ready to do my own Raku (a service provided by Clayscapes Pottery) I realized my advancement in Raku pottery research actually expanded to more appreciation for glaze recipes as I noted the ‘Copper Matte‘ options (see below):
Here is a run down of my pre-raku items of note:
No thin necks (hard to grasp with the tongs)
No tall slender objects (may fall over easily in the ‘reduction’ phase)
Lids are fired in the kiln separately so this takes up space on the kiln shelf. Note: Andrew from Clayscapes Pottery says he has a method of firing lids so they don’t crack on the shelf – I’ll keep you updated with this helpful hint
Burnishing is fun and meditative (on greenware) & is necessary if applying Terra Sig (for Horsehair prep)
Horsehair or Glaze
Horsehair – thicker hair is better. Good to have a friend with horses. Being grateful for this helps add another dimension of “Heartfelt Pottery”.
Glazing the inside – Question: is this feasible? If so, is this solely to help retain liquids? Otherwise I’d think I won’t use interior glaze as the Raku technique produces a porous piece (i.e. not ‘functional’). Most of the pieces I am looking to create are to serve as a storage container for things that don’t need air-tightness or fluid retention. Talking about this with a potential customer is a must!
Copper Matte – ooooh nice, and then sealing
Raku Kiln Firing
Making an adequate number of pieces is important to me – I don’t want to create too little and waste time at the kiln or my money spent renting the kiln firing. I guess making too much isn’t a bad thing as I could always do another firing!
The kiln shelf is 18″ (254.5 square inches), so 1/4 area of the shelf is 9″ x 9″ x ?? – however I think I could fit 2 max 5″ wide pieces w/their lids, in each 1/4 panel area without overcrowding (and without making the maneuvering with the tongs a challenge). The total for the shelf would then be 4 lidded piece + 1 piece without a lid place in the center, for a total of 5 pieces per load. And since the minimum # of load is 2 per firing, then we’re looking at a max of 10.
One way to find out is draw or print out an 18″ circle.
Working with the Raku Kiln firing facilitator about the choreography of us ‘dancing’ around & doing steps so we don’t bump into each other or let a pot not get the horsehair or reduction treatment in a timely temperature fashion.
Scrub Brush to clean pieces after the firing
Clothes: Long sleeved shirt, closed-toe footwear, no polyester clothing
Pan with Sand – to lay horsehair down and roll the piece (if desired)
Combustibles? I don’t know yet if I need to bring my own Sawdust and newspaper, which are popular combustibles
Sealant to help keep the colors from fading, after cleaning pieces
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.
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.
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!
Of course I’ll have the usual trash can with combustible materials on hand to give that a try too!
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.
Have a resource for quick reference always helps, especially as time becomes more valuable, retention becomes less and less, or you need to share what you’ve learned.
Making lids for pottery jars and containers can demand more attention – some break, some aren’t sized well enough, some don’t pair just right, etc. So tips and resources are well appreciated, regardless.
I had an idea using pattern overlays with different glazes per layer. Still in development. A little more simple pattern than below yet effect could be more complicated due to the different glaze affect.
My excitement can turn to anticipation anxiety on most projects. In my mind I have a desire to have a Pit Fire built on my property. Initial thoughts were ‘dig a big hole’…
And then my Master Potter mentioned a basic setup involving a structure with a shaft (at ground level or thereabouts) to feed the fire.. I’ve seen a photo of one but questions remained… “Where to find the materials”, “How much is that going to cost”, “Can I find plans online”.. etc.
Ohmygoodness I love so much about this Bold Bear Coffee mug (and I love Coffee too lol) from the most recent wood-fire kiln firing. The handle Rocks especially the smooth glazed thumb rest placeholder. and the cute lil bear of course ❤️ it’s so big!
Excited to share this item from my #etsy shop: Bold Bear Handcrafted Woodfired Pottery Coffee Tea Mug Cup https://etsy.me/2Mb4BjB