The Incredible, Unpredictable, Unstoppable Magic of Raku

The History

The history of Raku dates as far back as the 16th century CE. Traditional Raku pottery is also known to have been used in Japan by the Zen Buddhist masters who liked its simple naturalness.

This feature is appealing to us as well.

Raku means Pleasure or enjoyment

Raku pottery involves pots taken from the kiln while they are still red hot and placing them in a flammable reduction material such as
sawdust, woodchips or newspaper. Basically organic material that burns quickly.

The reason for this is to starve the pots of oxygen, which gives the glaze a wonderful variety of colours. Pieces with no glaze on them take the oxygen from the clay itself, meaning some areas will have a matte black colouring.

This is very different from a conventional firing, where the piece is removed from the kiln only after it’s cooled down slowly.

Western-Style Raku Firing

The ancient Eastern styles of raku were developed with new methods by American ceramicist Paul Soldner in the 1960s. He was known to teach his students ‘not to fight the unexpected but to look for the opportunities it offers.’ (a quote which we adore).

As you’ll see below, the kinds of effects you can get from this process are unlike those you can get from conventional pottery firing techniques.

Click the video and read on to see more or
click here to learn more about our particular style of firing our raku pottery!

The effects are unique and
one of a kind to each piece. 

While you may be able to reproduce a general overall effect,
you cannot reproduce identical pieces.

How we do it

THe piece that got me:
Fractal magic

Fractal Magic’ was one of my first pieces of raku pottery.

raku pottery vase, white with fractals

This vase is the one that launched my love affair with this firing technique. After cleaning off the soot and, there was no turning back.

For me, fractals represent the organized chaos of dynamic recursion in it’s own feedback loop, and is the pattern of life on this planet and the journey of the soul.

The Alchemist had found his gold.

Learn more about my this piece as well as many other works in my book
A Potter’s Dream: Myths and Legends

What do you think of the magic of raku?

Raku vase Blue Lotus

Check out more one of a kind raku effects on other vases
(including Blue Lotus and Fractal Magic) here


  1. Raku firing technique seems to involve such a leap of faith–not knowing how things will turn out, but pushing bravely onward anyway. I like the randomness of the outcome, how each pot or vase is completely unique and can’t be duplicated. It’s like each piece is a poem or song of its own. I love Fractal Magic. I’ve mentioned this before, but the pattern of the cracks reminds me of Japanese watercolor paintings of sakura-laden branches. Such an austere effect against the white background. It’s so peaceful and silent when I look at it. Meditative. Truly a work of art. 🙂

    1. Thank you Mike! and yes, it was that pull of the natural randomness and its interplay on the clay piece that really pulled me in. If only one could know in advance where the cracks were going to be, the reds and pinks of the flowers of the sakura paintings could be added!

  2. When I think of Japan, I think of mantelpieces decorated with ornaments either symmetrically around the centre line, following a static European sensibility, or with ornaments arranged asymmetrically – perhaps one larger piece offset to one side – a Japanese sensibility.

    Are you familiar with Bernard Leach, a British potter who spent time in Japan and who introduced Raku pottery to Britain? I googled and found several YouTube videos of him in his studio.

    1. I was not but have been taking a look! thank you for your comment! It is very thoughtful! I love how youve broken down the symmetry vs asymmetry as well

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