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Techniques - Raku

I experienced Raku for the first time in 2008 when my family gave me a Raku course as a birthday present. I was introduced to this exciting process by Bill Crumbleholme one of the Upwey Potters, Weymouth. (link)

David Walker Raku
David Walker Raku
David Walker Raku
David Walker Raku
David Walker
David Walker, Raku pot
 

I built a top hat raku kiln and have been experimenting with glazes and techniques.

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Raku refers to the name of a family of Japanese potters from 16th century Kyoto who created the style.
The Western method of Raku involves using tongs to lift the red hot glazed pot from the kiln and plunging it into sawdust. The rapid cooling shocks the glaze and cracks appear that become burnt black by the smoke. The carbonaceous atmosphere reacts and affects the glazes and clay and imparts unique effects with some unusual and often unexpected surface finishes. When the pots have cooled, they are washed with an abrasive cleaner to remove all residue of soot and ash.

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Naked Raku
Slip is used to act as a resist with glaze sprayed on top. Designs can be scratched through and the pot is placed in a top hat kiln using propane gas to heat.
The slip resist allows the glaze to fall off revealing the crackle patterns underneath. After cleaning, a wax finish is applied.
Each pot is hand built and unique. The end results can be varied and often unexpected. The crackle in the glaze and some of the irregular effects are all part of this unusual process. The pots are primarily decorative, not functional and should be treated with care.
I was inspired to experiment with this technique after seeing the exciting work of the potter Tim Andrews.

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Naked Raku Making
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All ceramic work is hand built using coils, slabs and modelling techniques. After biscuit firing, slip is applied to act as a resist with the glaze sprayed on top.   The pot is fired in a top hat kiln using a gas propane torch.   The red hot piece is lifted with tongs and plunged into sawdust. The glaze crazes and allows the smoke to burn the body black through the cracks. The slip resist allows the glaze to fall off after firing, revealing the crackle patterns underneath. After cleaning, a sealant and wax finish is applied.  
 
Construction - All work is hand built (I do not have a potters wheel). I use coils and slabs to build, modelling each piece by hand. The Naked Raku pieces are burnished to create a highly polished finish that can be sealed and wax polished after they have been fired.
 

Stoneware sculpture - designed for both indoor and garden use. 1100 mm high.
Modelled out of heavily grogged clay. I use coils and slabs to build the shapes, then carve, sculpt and develop the surface texture and finish. It is biscuit and glaze fired in two pieces. Oatmeal glaze applied with a spray gun and fired at 1280 °c. Then fixed together with stainless steel bolts.

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  David Walker David Walker Earthenware  
Sgrafitto technique being applied to a coiled earthenware pot that has been burnished and oxide then applied to emphasise the design.