Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Raku Aftermath

(Raku buttons available here)

It’s been a few weeks since raku firing and I’ve been busy with the ‘aftermath’ – if that’s the right word. Debriefing? Raku is never a straightforward process and unlike ‘normal’ firing methods which means a pot is pretty much finished as soon as it’s out of the kiln, raku ware requires extra work at every stage, even the last.

First of all I had to give all the pots a really good clean. When the pots first emerge out of the sawdust they get an initial scrub to get the worst of the carbon off. But for some reason this is never quite enough and when you inspect them the following day, you realize there’s a lot more residue still to clean! So out come the brillos again…

I’m not sure what other raku makers do but I also find that raku pots can feel quite rough even after cleaning, particularly on unglazed areas like the base and - in my case - in the ‘black stripes’ I leave as a part of the design. So at this stage I always smooth all my raku pieces with fine sandpaper on all the blackened areas where the body of the pot is exposed. You have to be careful when doing this however that you don’t sand the pot too much! Because raku pots are low-fired they don’t fully vitrify like normal pots and so it’s much easier to actually shape them with sanding and accidentally expose the ‘un-smoked’ body of the pot underneath.

And then finally once I’ve done all this cleaning and smoothing I give them a quick polish with normal furniture polish and a yellow duster! It sounds somehow sacrilegious but I find it works wonders: it buffs the glaze and lustres, and enhances the exposed areas so they show up a deep matt black. I’ve heard people mention things like using beeswax on raku pots, especially on ‘resist’ or ‘naked’ raku items: but I tried this once and found it left a sticky, unpleasant coating which I didn’t like. Old-fashioned furniture polish (the type that comes in a flat tin to use on old wooden tables) however, works on exposed areas too - if you buff well enough afterwards.

So as you can imagine, considering I had about 50 raku pieces from this firing, this took me another couple of days! In the meantime I’ve also been photographing the results and making notes about the glazes. The photo at the top of this entry shows just some of the buttons from this firing: two of these have now been listed in my Folksy shop. Hopefully I’ll get around to putting some more raku in the shop soon.


  1. Those buttons are really lovely. It's interesting to hear about different glazing and firing techniques. :)

  2. I've just had a browse at your Folksy shop. I love the ceramic hearts - brilliant, K x

  3. Wow! they look amazing Jude

  4. Love the buttons, you have to be commited to go through this process each time, but I can imagine it is quite rewarding to see the finished item

  5. Thanks for the lovely comments guys!