Steps Involved In Making Raku Pottery

steps in making raku pottery

I hope this post finds you well, happy and in eager anticipation of whatever winter holiday you might celebrate!  A few people have asked me about the raku process that is used to fire my pottery and vases and I have decided to show you and write about how I create raku pottery.

The process starts with creating a piece on the wheel (or by hand-building).  I love the process of making things on the wheel and find there is a certain zen feeling that washes over me.

Potter throwing on the wheel.
Throwing pottery on the wheel is a tonic for the soul!

After a pot is thrown or handbuilt, it must dry to prevent explosions in the kiln when it is bisque fired.  After the piece has had time to dry it is bisque fired.  This makes for more stable handling of the piece when glazing and makes it easier for the piece to withstand the rigors of raku.

Once the bisque firing is done, the magic of raku begins!  Pottery pieces are cleaned and glazed and prepared for their final firing and the flames of raku.

The components of the glaze are one of the main variables that help determine the effects you get from a raku firing!  Glaze can be brushed on a pottery piece, or a piece can be dipped into glaze.

Once the glaze has completely dried, it is ready to go in the kiln.  We use an electric kiln for our raku firings.  There are specialized raku kilns you can buy, but they cost a small fortune!

Once the kiln is loaded, it is heated to the determined temperature for the raku firing.  This is another variable that helps determine the effect of the glaze.

Reduction bins are prepared with organic material which also has an impact on the finish of the raku pottery.  

Once the kiln has reached temperature, the real adventure begins!  Safety googles and gloves are put on, and the raku tongs are at the ready. 

If you are attempting this at home, please note this is not a comprehensive guide, and there are real safety issues to be considered, depending on your set up.

This may be a video on how not to do raku!  Transferring raku pottery from the kiln into the reduction bins filled with organic material.

As you can see from the video, red hot pots are transferred from the kiln into the reduction material with metal tongs.  Note that prior to this, the kiln is shut off (no shocking experiences for me of the tongs touching any of the metal coils within the kiln!)

I sometimes add additional reduction material.  Once all pots are placed in the reduction bin, a lid is added.  We also use upside-down pots.  The goal is to create a ‘reduction’ environment where there is no oxygen.  This happens if you have sealed your bin well, as the organic material burns off the oxygen in the container.

Once the raku pottery is removed from the reduction bin, it can still be quite hot.  It is placed in water to help cool the piece.  During the reduction process pottery pieces often get covered in soot and must be scrubbed.  Pieces are also placed back in the kiln after being cleaned to help set the colours.

This is how we make our raku pottery!  Do you think the raku effects are worth the extra effort?  Which is your favourite effect below?  You can see more raku effects by clicking here.

67 Comments

    1. Thank you for your kind words πŸ˜‰ It is hard to give a precise time, but usually I spend a few days throwing, a week for drying, a day for the bisque fire and then a day or two for glazing and firing πŸ˜‰

    1. You are most welcome! There may be a studio near you that offers classes. Some of the equipment can be on the pricey side to get going.

    1. Je vous remercie pour vos aimables paroles! Je suis heureux de pouvoir augmenter votre fascination pour le raku! En vous souhaitant tout le meilleur en 2019!

    1. You are very welcome! Best of luck with your blog! I think you have a great subject matter which people can universally relate to. The only advise I have is to keep going and interact with people in a genuine way, which it looks like you are doing!

      1. For sure! I find it is important to not lose focus on the art, in your case the photography, you are creating!

  1. Thank you for this link. I have enjoyed reading here so much. Art is art, is it not? I sometimes find it hard to explain my feelings about items; why they appeal to me. I write a fair amount, and am a pretty serious, but amateur photographer. Sometimes the catch of light on a simple piece of wood, or the cracked glaze of a pot–ancient or new–captures my vision, and sometimes my mind. Thank you for your contributions to beauty.

  2. Mix together some years of experience, some love for the craft, some randomness for how the colors will come out from the kiln, some bits of soil a passion for this particular niche of pottery and as if by magic the result is the beautiful products you have here. Absolutely wonderful. They all look so tactile as well as gloriously coloured and shaped. You have a special talent.

    1. Wow! What a beautiful comment! Thank you so much for your very kind words and magical description! It is so nice to read and means so much to me. I hope you are having a wonderful week so far!

    1. Thank you so much Florence for your kind comment. I do find the process fascinating, and believe it or not I learn something new each time I do a firing. I hope you are having an excellent week so far.

  3. I’m interested in how “bespoke” this is? Can two pots fired as part of the same process turn out significantly different? Presumbly in a single batch, you must be aiming for 95% similar? i.e. individual enough to be a one-off, yet identical enough that you have a pretty good idea what you’ll finish with. Is that somewhere near?

    1. Very interesting question. With some of the glazes the results are predictable to a point, but with other glazes they are not. I would say 95% may be accurate for some of the features of a glaze. I am learning to somewhat control the results from firing to firing by keeping notes on the variables, but even in the same firing sometimes I am completely surprised. That for me is the magic of raku! I hope you have been having a good week. Been fighting off a Fall cold!

    1. Homer will soon be winging his way to you! I have a few options I have set aside for you for different reasons. I am hoping to have your pieces packed up over the weekend, so I can get everything out to you the day after the books arrive, which should be at the end of next week! Hope you are having a wonderful week so far!

      1. I’m doing well and so excited for you. This is a special time and try to live in the moment as much as possible. I know your rushing around to take care of all the details, just remember to make good memories of these days. πŸ™‚

      2. I am glad to hear that you are doing well! I just fought off a cold, so now I am in full enjoyment mode! Thank you so much for your kind wishes as always! Hope this weekend is full of wonderful things for you!

  4. Burning ring of fire was funny to hear. My mother played that song over and over when I was a child, I think I still have it stuck in my head. I love this new version, it is very upbeat. Loved watching the video too. I would be afraid and be jumping back with all those flames but what beautiful pieces they produce. I can’t pick a favorite, they all look pretty with the textures and colors.

    1. Thank you so very much for your kind comment and for sharing your childhood memory! That song certainly gets stuck in my head with ease still today, and making that video certainly helped with that! I am not sure if you can see me jumping back in the video, but I did πŸ˜‰ I hope you are having a wonderful week so far!

    1. Hi Tamara! Thank you so much for your kind comment! Owls are usually around $75CAD, and the polar bears are $45/CAD, not including shipping. Feel free to get in touch for more pictures or information here:

      https://rakupottery.ca/contact/

      I hope you are having a wonderful week. My apologies for not replying sooner, have been a bit under the weather with a cold!

    1. Thank you so much Lia for your comment and I am glad you enjoyed the process shots. I hope you are having a great week so far!

    1. The results make every step in the process worth it! I remind myself of that when I am scrubbing the vases to free them of soot πŸ˜‰ Hope all is well with your work on the book!

    1. I would love to see what you come up with! You create such beautiful art, and I found when I started pottery after painting it gave me a whole new lease on creativity!

    1. Thank you so much for your very kind comment and nomination! I hope you are having a wonderful week so far!

    1. Thank you so much for your very kind comment and the nomination! I will check out the link a little later. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the week!

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment and I am glad you found the process interesting! I hope you are having a great week so far!

    1. Thank you so very much for your very kind words! Good luck with your blog, I am following along. Have a wonderful weekend!

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