The name Raku meaning a pleasure is a Japanese technique and process of firing clay dating back to the 16th century or there about. At that time the process was used mostly for tea bowls which were used in a Tea Ceremony. The small tea bowls where taken from the kiln red hot, cooled to touch and then used to drink from, we call this Eastern style Raku, simple and beautifully pleasant. Later in the 20th century, there was a revival of this technique bought to the West by Bernard Leach and then Raku re-surfaced by Paul Soldner and the American version of Raku came to light and went a bit wild. The American or Western style of Raku has a second process which is called post reduction. After the pottery had reached it's glaze melt temperature the piece is pulled from the hot kiln at about 1800 degrees and placed in a container containing combustibles, caught on fire and then covered air tight to produce reduction. This technique fills the cracks in the white glaze and turns it black and any unglazed areas. The same method is used for the copper flash glazes. The process in America has changed in modern times. In the beginning the tea bowls where very organic, plain and simply glaze in earthen colors for their beauty. A little bowl you just want to hold in your hands and sip tea at a festive event of subtle quietness. Then comes along modern day Raku pottery inventions at times over stated or over done. You will see Raku fire pots with bight purple, yellow and blue glaze that don't relate to the natural beauty of the earth, however this is called American Raku.
I consider my work in the middle of both ends. Personally I like the simple forms and the white crackle reduced glaze. Cedric and I created stoneware studio pottery with influence of the Art's & Craft's Movement for many years. Before his passing we were playing with some Raku, and today, I decided to carry on with this process. I find it most exciting and at times a mystery. Currently I'm blending the Arts and Crafts movement style that I carry within me into the Raku process for a unique feel. Having passion for early tribal art, pre-historic art and craft, I embellish some of my vessels with my own primitive or naive' elements which I/we call "Paleo". Cedric & I came up with this idea after he went on a local guided cave painting tour. Some of his last pottery vessels are reminiscent of this genre.
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