Today was the final and most exciting class in my Raku Sampler Course at Shadbolt Center for the Arts. It was a long day, filled with lots of excitement, flames, smoke, dangerous chemicals, and amazing results. The fun thing about raku is that the results are almost immediate, although I do need to still clean up some of my pieces a bit more, and will also track down beeswax to wax many of the pieces, which I believe will enhance the colors and shine, and also hold the colors better than if I don't wax them.
Since everyone in the class signed a waiver for a Shadbolt photographer to take their photos, I don't think they'd object to my posting some photos from class today. But first, some of the beautiful results :
As I mentioned, there was lots of heat and fire. Here are the raku kiln just being opened...
I was happy to leave this very hot work to Linda, Tony and Jay, who were doing a wonderful job pulling out the pieces and delivering them to their respective destinations. Usually it was into combustibles. This is a "naked" raku being set into a metal bucket lined with newspaper and sawdust, a bit more paper added on top, allowed to flare up in flames, and then covered for 5 minutes to smoulder :
The horsehair raku was the part I was most looking forward to, and it didn't disappoint. Again, timing was everything. Hairs applied while the pot was too hot, seemed to just vaporize and smoke, leaving a large smoky area. The hairs applied while at the optimal temperature, curled and attached themselves to the pot, creating a distinct black squiggly line. The hairs applied when too cool, didn't stick at all. And from too hot to too cold was maybe a minute or two.
The naked raku turned out better than I had expected. When we pulled the charred pieces out of the metal buckets, and hosed them down with cold water, the "sacrificial slip" was not too hard to scrape off with a credit card (I used an old CD). Here is mine, getting washed down :
The saggar firing was not as exciting, since we packed the items last week, and then Linda had them fired and ready for us to unpack this week.
My biggest surprise and also disappointment was around my sculpture, the lady in a beautiful dress. I was prepared that something would happen to her, that she would lose an arm or something during handling, or in reaction to the rapid temperature changes. The good news is that Tony was able to amazingly carry her with tongs into the combustion area, and also from there to the hose-down area, and she was completely undamaged.
The disappointing part is that I glazed her dress in a bright red glaze (which I also used for some pendants, and they turned out with an amazing bright red), but she ended up a very unspectacular gold colour. Tony says it's a sign that she didn't get enough reduction, perhaps because the can was quite large, so a lot of air around her, or perhaps since there was a hole in the can, so a small stream of smoke billowed out, even though we had tried to block it with some rocks, and then placed a lid over it. Oh well. She is still chosen for the student exhibit, although I somewhat wish she wasn't. I keep thinking she's my Lady in Red Who is Not Red. But she did turn out well, I have to admit. Her dress, even though not Red, has a beautiful shine and a bit of iridescence to it.