Raku Pottery was developed in Japan in the early 1500’s as the Ceremonial Tea Ware of the Zen Buddhist Masters. The word Raku signifies enjoyment of freedom. Raku Pottery is earth derived...the firing process is unique and daring, and in the eyes of the Zen Masters, the process truly reflects the most fundamental rhythm of enlightened life.
Raku firing is a low-temperature, fast-firing process that yields exciting, chance surface effects on ceramic ware. Ware is glazed with special raku glazes, placed in a gas kiln until the temperature reaches over 1800ºF. At that point the molten ware is carefully removed from the kiln and placed in combustible material in a reduction chamber that is then sealed. Reduction refers to a process whereby combustibles in contact with a hot piece, burn, or reduce the oxygen in the chamber, converting its atmosphere to one that is rich in carbon and producing dramatic colors on the surface of the ware.
My Horsehair Angel Bells
After forming the angels, they are wrapped to dry and then bisque fired to give them strength to withstand the raku firing.
They go into my raku gas kiln and are heated up to 1,000 degrees F. At that temperature they are removed, one at a time, and horsehair is applied one strand at a time. The horsehair burns onto the surface in interesting designs. Each is unique.
Once they are cool, I clean them of the smoke and any soot, and wax the surfaces. The final touch is to attach the clapper with wire that also becomes the hook for hanging.