Raku is a ceramics firing technique developed originally, and still carried on, by the Raku family in Japan. The process has spread to other parts of the world.
Tanis Rebbetoy, a potter and jewellery maker who lived for many years in Sioux Narrows, Ontario, has recently come to live in Revelstoke — her son Nathan is a timber-frame builder living here — and arrived with her Raku kiln, recently installed in my back yard. A versatile and inventive artist, Tanis has been making jewellery, pottery, and other art craft items for 25 years.
The photos below demonstrate the firing process for Raku, a type of reduction firing at high temperatures that involves removing the fired pieces from the kiln and burning them in direct flame as they are deprived of oxygen. The effect is to create a crackle in the glaze, and, where the clay is unglazed, a matte black finish resulting from the clay having to yield its own supply of oxygen to the fire.
The process involves bisque firing first, then glazing, then Raku firing. After the firing, the pieces must be cleaned to remove the smoke on the glaze.
You can see Tanis’s jewellery and decorative chickadees in the Winter Art Walk at Talisman Fibre & Trading Co., 211 Mackenzie St., Revelstoke, December-March.
In the meantime, here are some photos that show you the process in action: