Ceramics club fires up for Raku

“There are so many different variables in raku,” said David Bradley, a raku ceramics teacher in Loomis. “No two pots are ever the same.”

On Saturday, November 16, the Ceramics Club at Vista went to its first raku firing of the year.

Raku means “enjoyment” in Japanese and is a form of ceramics that deals with painting objects with glazes filled with earthly minerals, and then firing them in a kiln with actual fire. Once the object has been fired in the kiln, it is then put into a reduction chamber, a container used to contain smoke, and gradually cool the item. After a period of time has passed, the object is taken out and set out to cool.

Raku is a form of pottery that originates in Japan. It was originally used to decorate tea bowls used in Japanese tea ceremonies and was brought to the West by the artist Paul Soldner. Raku in the western world is different from traditional raku in that the West uses reduction chambers where traditional raku does not.

The Vista Ceramics Club plans a raku firing date every year. This year’s firing had a large turnout of 15 members and may not be the last one of the year. “We are planning on doing another raku firing sometime next term,” said Ceramics Club president Shannon Cefalu. “New people are getting interested.”

Many of the club members were very excited about the raku firing and the unpredictable results of the glaze. “Just try it and see what comes out,” said member Annalisa Sanfilippo.

Once the raku firing was finished late into the afternoon, everyone reflected on their ceramic pieces they created and took them home to memorialize. The metallic raku glazes were the favorite among the group, with many pieces using copper tones. The only thing that remains now is to decide what glaze will be popular next time around–white crackle or copper?