On Friday, US Art faculty and students conducted an outdoor "raku" firing of original ceramic work. Ceramics teacher Ms. Enck prepared her students by providing raku clay and glazes, and by explaining the benefits and uncertainties of this Japanese-inspired reduction-firing technique. Students then created and glazed wheel-thrown and hand-built pottery and sculptures in preparation for the firing day.
Teams of ceramics students used tongs to remove their red-hot ceramic pieces from the outdoor kilns, put them in the reduction containers (steel buckets filled with flammable wood chips.) After cooling and quenching the pieces, the students were amazed to see their pieces transformed.
In the raku method, both clay and glazes darken with carbon, and copper-based glazes develop beautiful, unpredictable color patterns. This year, our raku firing was managed by Ray Bogle, an expert potter from the local workshop District Clay. Ray kept everybody safe and well-occupied and helped explain exactly what was happening in each step of the firing.