A slide show of a recent dry raku workshop is coming soon. In the meantime, I thought you might find these photos amusing. Our cat, Rosie, has taken to a shallow bowl I fired that day. She doesn’t look happy about having her photo taken here, but she adores that bowl. Whether it’s on the floor, couch or table, she’s in it. No chance to use it for anything else, as she has fully appropriated it! Dan Severance’s dry raku workshop was grand and I’m glad I fired more pieces, as I need something to show for it, something I can call my own. 🙂
Rosie in her bowl.
Rosie sleeping; Hudson Bay blanket backdrop.
Horsehair Vase Judge’s Special Award Mashiko 2006 Swanica Ligtenberg.
“Horsehair Raku Technique: taking out of the kiln at 1350F and putting horsehair on the pot which burns into it. Putting the pot on a tissue will give smoke effects on the pot. The yellowish color is from spraying ferric chloride on the put while it is hot.”
By Swanica via Wikimedia Commons
You know how you feel when something exciting is about to happen? Well, I can barely contain myself! I am taking part in a raku workshop this weekend. It is being taught by Dan Severance, of the Port Moody Arts Centre. A pro with much experience, Dan is also fun to be around. He’s perfected his techniques over the years and I know this all-day workshop will be terrific. We’ll be learning special raku techniques using horse hair and feathers, along with ordinary methods. I’ve worked with raku since the early 1980s but have yet to learn these advanced techniques. It’s perfect timing, as I’m going to start concentrating on raku.
Raku pottery coming out of the kiln. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
A vase glazed and fired using the Western Raku technique, showing the soot, crackle glazing, and random oxidation typical of this pottery form. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
I like the primitive nature of a raku firing…red hot pieces lifted from a kiln and plunged into organic matter. Crackle glazes and smoky blacks. It makes me reflect on the history of raku, on the Japanese and Koreans artisans who have fired pottery this way for centuries. One reason I’m stoked is because, while I’ve used traditional raku glazes on sculptures and vessels, I’ve yet to use the metallic oxides which result in beautiful coloration and patterns. So think of us this weekend. We’ll be working inside a gorgeous two-storey Arts and Crafts-style building, then firing outside alongside it. We’re enjoying a gorgeous fall here in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia. Perfect for a raku firing: sunny yet crisp.
Samos amphora kept at Bodrum castle (Turkey). Samos is a Greek island in the North Aegean sea, off the Ionian coast of Turkey. In classical antiquity the island was a centre of Ionian culture and luxury, renowned for its Samian wines. By Ad Meskens via Wikimedia Commons
To be of use
The people I love the best
jump into work head first
without dallying in the shallows
and swim off with sure strokes almost out of sight.
They seem to become natives of that element,
the black sleek heads of seals
bouncing like half-submerged balls.
I love people who harness themselves, an ox to a heavy cart,
who pull like water buffalo, with massive patience,
who strain in the mud and the muck to move things forward,
who do what has to be done, again and again.
I want to be with people who submerge
in the task, who go into the fields to harvest
and work in a row and pass the bags along,
who are not parlor generals and field deserters
but move in a common rhythm
when the food must come in or the fire be put out.
The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.
Greek amphoras for wine or oil,
Hopi vases that held corn, are put in museums
but you know they were made to be used.
The pitcher cries for water to carry
and a person for work that is real.
— Marge Piercy, from Circles on the Water
Raku fired ball. JeroenPascal from the Netherlands via Wikimedia Commons
Jacques Huther during a raku session. Niouz via Wikimedia Commons
Pottery fair in Beroun in 2011, Czech Republic. By Juandev via Wikimedia Commons
Horsehair Vase Judge’s Special Award Mashiko, 2006. By Swanica Ligtenberg; work and image; via Creative Commons
Ceramic vase boule, turquoise. By Isabelle Milliot (Own work) via Creative Commons
Figure seen in profile, Japanese style. By Isabelle Milliot (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons
By Ogata Kenzan – Incense Box, 1663-1743. Walters Art Museum via Wikimedia Commons