Sunday, June 13, 2010

Electric Kiln Raku...

A few years ago, when I was taking pottery classes at the college, I was lucky enough to have access to an outdoor raku kiln. Loving the results, I've been wanting to fire a few raku pots of my own here in my own "lab". Horsehair and Ghost Willow pots are my personal favorite, so for the past little while I've been contemplating how to get raku results in my electric kiln without completely destroying the elements. After not actually thinking it through, I just went for it. :0)

First, I applied terra-sigillata to green-ware, buffed, and bisqued. Then I prepared my ghost willow pots with my super secret technique, which I'm not sharing :) Then I put everything in the kiln on a shelf so I could easily get to them with tongs without having to singe my eyebrows off to get to, and fired to 1300*

At temperature, I opened up the lid and snagged a pot with some heavy duty tongs (which I may, or may not have found by the fireplace). I'm not sure this is 100% fantastic on an electric kiln... but the results were worth it.

First the horsehair pots. The goal of a horsehair pot is to drag the hair in a natural flowing and artistic manner, across the extremely hot vase so the hair burns and leaves lines on the surface of the pot. These look best when the pattern is random not planned, and since I can't draw a straight line with a ruler, this is easy.

The hotter the pot is when you apply the hair, the more smokey effect you'll get.

Cooler pot, more detail.

Of course, the pot can't be too hot, or the hair will burn before it touches the pot. And it can't be too cool, or the hair won't burn at all. So work quickly.

Final result:

This one is my favorite horsehair pots I've ever made.

And as for the Ghost Willow, I'll share the fact that it was fired to the same temp, but involved this:

Not burning your eyebrows off while trying to smother it,

And smoke.

Final result:
Beautiful result, and always a mystery until the final revealing. I love it. Thanks to my favorite potter Blaine, for discovering this technique and sharing with me!

Until Next Time,