Raku Blog 2 – Smoke Firing

Hi Everybody,

A couple of weeks ago, I did a blog about raku clay and it reminded me of the raku smoke firing course we did not too long ago. It was a great day! We made and bisque fired our raku pots in advance and also burnished them in preparation for the day. We then went to our raku firing site, which was surprisingly someone’s garden in a village just outside Cardiff.

I wasn’t quite sure if the person, who owned the garden, knew what to expect. Anyway, the first thing we did was dig out a large rectangular pit, about 4 meters long, 2 meters wide and 1 meter deep, right in the middle of the manicured lawn! They seemed ok about it, and I supposed it helped that they were from an arty background and were taking part in the course. We then unloaded a transit van full of wood into the pit, followed by lots of scrunched up paper and more wood. Then came our raku pots, which we covered in a variety of natural materials, such as banana skins, horsehair, seaweed, and wrapped the pots up in silver foil. These were then placed just under the wood pile ready for firing. They looked like a load of baked potatoes, sitting there waiting to be cooked. The idea of the horsehair and other organic items is that the materials create smoke patterns and carbon trails on the pots’ surface. The pit was set alight and took most of the day to reach a temperature of about 1000 degrees celsius.

The following day the pit had cooled, and we carefully hooked out and unwrapped our smoke fired raku pots. The results were pretty good and surprising, which is often the case with these firings, as there are so many variables that can affect the pots. It was hard work, but a fantastic couple of days. Check out the infinity clay website for more up and coming courses, though sadly we can’t offer something like the above.

Bye for now,

Barry