The name Raku
comes from a gold seal granted to honor Chojiro, the son of
a Korean tile maker, who originated the ware in 16th century
Japan. The ideograph raku is a symbol that, freely
translated means enjoyment, contentment, pleasure, and
happiness. Raku ware was guided to fame by Rkyu, Japan's
most famous Tea Master, an honorable title granted only to a
true artist who had sufficient awareness and insight into
nature and man. The post-reduction process is a recent
American adaptation to an age old Japanese techniques. Until
approx. thirty years ago hot pots were simply removed from
the kiln and placed on the ground to
at its most rudimentary level,
Raku can be described as a low-temperature
firing technique. Previously bisqued
(fired and cooled) pottery is glazed
and then placed into a preheated kiln.
is quickly, within an hour, brought
up to approx. 1900 degree and removed
usually with tongues, while glowing hot.
the size and shape of my pieces,
wearing protective gear, I do take most spheres
out of the kiln by hand.
immediately placed into a metal
container partly filled with combustible
material such as leaves or sawdust.
piece ignites the material and the
container is quickly covered with a lid to
prevent air from entering and smoke from
exiting. As the flames inside become deprived
of oxygen, a post-firing reduction takes place
which turns the exposed clay surfaces
black and copper bearing glazes
into voluptuous patinas.
Over time, exposed to
the elements these colors
might change. The crackle producing thermal shock
is often enhanced by cooling the hot ware in
Cracks are sometimes
part of the process and do not
diminish the value of a piece, on the contrary, they are
Raku ware is not
suited for utilitarian purposes.
*Technical and historical
information from "Raku Pottery" and "The Spirit of Clay" by Robert