Thursday, December 9, 2010

Sunday Raku Firing

I finally had a chance to take some good pictures of my last Raku firing. I am so happy I can fire so often, weather has been good to me. Cold enough that the neighbors keep their windows shut, yet sunny for an enjoyable day. Even though I am using a portable Raku kiln, it is still a lot of work to set up. Moving refractory bricks to a good spot, carrying all the reduction materials, bringing out the 30-lbs gas tank...I don't set up unless I have enough pieces to do at least three firings.
I had seven pieces to fire on Sunday. Four were a variant on the Euclidian series that I prefer to Raku. They are wheel-thrown then altered by folding parts of the vessel unto itself. It breaks the symmetry of the circle to provide an interesting shape for further design. In the four pieces below, I tried to take away the vision of a ceramic vessel by imparting a more metallic quality, especially copper, or a leathery finish. Finish is what appeals to the eye, it is important to spend time on it until you are satisfied with your design. Those four pieces turned out great !   

Copper and Black Leather Vessel

Copper and Mother of Pearl

Brown and Black Leather Vessel

Buttoned Up !

Three other pieces were more Naked Raku experiments. I wanted to try out terra sigillata on a piece before applying the resist slip. At this point I only had bisqued pots (cone 08) available, so I took three and lathered them with terra sig, buffed them a bit then applied the slip resist, followed by the glaze, all in several days to allow proper drying between applications. To make it more interesting, I even spent an extra hour or two carving bamboos on one. And on into the kiln ! Well, let's just say my sophomore debut wasn't as successful as the first try. Call it beginner's luck I guess. This time around the eggshell did not fall off as expected. At all in fact ! I ran the kiln a bit hotter than I should have, trying to get a handle on that "orange peel" texture that indicates the pot is ready. I suspect I did not apply a thick enough coat of slip resist, as well. Scraping off the eggshell was a huge ordeal ! I vowed countless times not to repeat the same mistakes, among other expletives ! I mustered enough courage to unveil the bamboo vessel, but I stopped short at the second vessel after injuring myself with the metal rib/scrapper. Oddly enough I like that second pot. The picture is almost indecent, as if we were peeking at an intimate moment of undressing. Here I thought I failed miserably and wasted a nice pot. But I guess failure may just be a matter of perspective. There is beauty and art in that second piece, because it elicited a response, an emotion in me. Beside anger at myself, of course :)  

Bamboos Unveiled

Caught in the Act of Undressing

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