Saturday, February 12, 2011


We had the Syracuse Ceramic Guild's Winterfest-ivities today. Folks from all over Central New York came to Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in Cazenovia, N.Y. for a day of snow filled activities. There was lots of sledding down the big hill that the Art Park sits on. Inside the barn was hot chocolate, coffee, snacks, etc. and Denise and Sheila helping visitors with the un-frozen raku glazes.
There was a core crew of four of us, braving the blustery cold winds to fire our almost new, wood-fired raku kiln. "Double D" Dave, Dave "L" and me on the right, are prepping for the start while Sabrina took a minute to help prepare things inside. Wood splitting, unthawing and pre-heating the bricks took a bit of time to do.

Here's "Double D" Dave ('cause his last name starts with D and the other Dave's last name starts with L) splitting some wood in anticipation of the high temps we needed later. We fired to approximately 1850* F

Here's two of the kids glazing, I think the lens fogged up coming in out of the cold, as a few more rest in the background, and when the pots come out, we preheat them a couple of minutes to finish drying them, as they're freshly glazed pots.

Now the firing takes about fifteen minutes to get to temp, then I remove the door, we take the still glowing, orange - hot pots out with long tongs and place them in a trash can that has a few inches wood shavings in it, throw a big hand full of shavings on top of the pots and then Sabrina quickly pops the lid on while the shavings are still burning to create a smoke filled can. The glazes are molten at this time and will be affected by the changes in the atmosphere. We are reducing the amount of oxygen (why we call it "reduction") and increasing the amount of carbon particles, which in turn affects the looks of the clay and glazes (creating surface lusters, crystals and keeping copper and iron from returning to it's oxidized state which would change the color dramatically).

Maybe I should have titled this post " A Raku Tutorial - Winterfest Edition "

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