Thursday, 14 June 2007

Ceramics Class

Raku firing is like a kind of alchemy that you see before your very eyes. It satisfies the pyromaniac in you with the edge of danger that fire always presents. I've been looking forward to it all week. And I wasn't the only one at class to feel so.

Pots that have been biscuit fired and glazed are put into a gas fired kiln. The lid is closed and the heating begins. Gets up to 1000C. Inside the kiln (spied through the hole in the top) we watch the pots get red hot, the glaze on them bubbles and becomes like orange peel before gradually becoming completely smooth and very shiny. This is when they are ready. The lid is taken off and the hot pots are transferred into sawdust which sets fire with the heat.

30 minutes later the slightly cooler pots are taken out of the sawdust and sprayed with water which starts to clean off the charring and peels off some of the outer layers. What is revealed is crackling glaze, clay that has turned black, copper glaze that has turned from green to shiny copper or looks like petrol. The ugly pot is transformed. Its not exactly beautiful but is rather amazing - petrolly coloured shiny metallic looking - sort of like the inside of shells. And the cobalt oxide is a vivid shade of blue.

No comments: