What is Raku
History. Raku is a low-fired ceramic ware first produced by Sasaki Chōjirō (d. 1592) in the 16th century in Kyoto. Under the encouragement and patronage of his close friend, tea master Sen no Rikyū, he crafted a style of bowl which was very much unlike the colorful Chinese-influenced ceramics of the time. In stark contrast, Chōjirō's works were mostly monochrome black or red and devoid of any decoration or sense of movement.
Raku, translated to “joy” or “happiness” and is a unique form of pottery making; what makes it unique is the range of designs that can be created by simply altering certain variables. These variables—which include wax resist, glazes, slips, temperature, and timing—ultimately determine the outcome when firing a piece of clay.
Modern Raku is generally recognized by its characteristic rough finish and smokey, “oil slick” like, iridescent coloration or crackled glazes. Raku is created using a lightweight, sandy clay which is not fired as most ceramics are. Pieces are bisque fired, glaze is applied, then rapidly re-fired to approximately 1800 degrees. The pottery is then removed and introduced, while still red hot, into a reduction container (often a metal garbage can), filled with combustibles such as sawdust or newspaper, and smoldered – resulting in its unpredictable, unique outcome. Because of its porous nature, Raku is prone to fracturing known as crazing. Though this makes it more fragile, and the finished product is not generally water tight, the results are stunning and each piece clearly expresses the individuality of the maker’s hand, and pieces tend to be unique creations.
Care of your Raku ware - If you are lucky enough to own a Raku piece, special care is needed to keep it looking bright. Never put water into a vase, a dried arrangement is best. Gently wipe your pieces with a soft, dry cloth when needed and avoid strong light which can fade the rich colors.
Raku at Paonia Clayworks. We have some stunning pieces for sale in our showroom. We also invite the public when we have a firing. If you would like be notified of our next Raku firing please join our mailing list below and join the fun.