Sunday, 9 March 2014

Raku.



The Art College where I took my degree course had three main departments; Painting and Sculpture (mine), Weaving, and Pottery.  The Pottery department had an excellent national reputation.

In the years when I was a student, there was a fashion amongst the potters for building experimental outdoor kilns, and for firing Raku pots.

Raku (as I understand it) is a risky Japanese method of firing and glazing all in one go, by heating-up the kiln to very high temperatures, firing for a very short while, then removing the pot whilst still 'red hot'. Many pots don't survive this extreme treatment, but those that do are often crackled, pitted, and very beautiful.


One of the advantages of hanging around the college's Pottery dep't (apart from the fact that it was awash with beautiful girls), was the possibility of being given their casts-off.

These two Raku pots, above, are a good example of their rejects. OK, they're not the world's finest, but they are practical, attractive, and were free. The fact that I still have them, and that they are still in constant use, means that for me (at least) it was right to save them from the wrecker's hammer.

I wish I could remember who made them!


20 comments:

  1. I once went to a lecture on Raku and the pots that were shown were beautifully irridescent and so thinly made and fragile they looked like they would crumple in your hand - yours has done well to survive for so long.

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  2. Is that really supposed to be good? To the untrained eye, it looks like a pot one of Billy Bunter's classmates might have made.

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    Replies
    1. Aesthetics is a difficult concept to grasp; especially if Quelch was the teacher.

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  3. My friend is a potter of the same age Cro …. where did you go to college ….was it Surrey ? Maybe you had some of her rejects !! That's probably like saying if you live in London, do you know John Smith !!!!
    We go to our county craft show every year where they demonstrate many things including Raku and make the most vast pots. Your's are really good especially as they're freebies ! XXXX

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    1. Yes, I was at the West Surrey College of Art (with Tom Stephenson). Maybe I knew your friend?

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    3. Okay I have more info now: So my best pal said that she took a year a basic classes at West Surrey then finished up her agriculture/horticulture course at Merrist Wood. Small world after all! (And re: raku - that little pot is great - I really miss raku - perhaps I can figure out how to do a raku firing here when I start teaching again, but I'd have to do it outside which means permits, etc)

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  4. I love those pots Cro. My first husband was a painter and went to Art School in Lincoln. Over the years we have acquired various pots from potter friends - I use them regularly.

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  5. I think that she went to Farnham ….. is that the same ? XXXX

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    Replies
    1. Her name is Marilyn Andreetti but, she is a couple of years older than me. XXXX

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    2. No, doesn't ring a bell. And not a name one would forget. Pity.

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  6. Yes …. a pity and certainly not a name that you would forget... BUT …… when one is in a different year and a different department, lives don't usually cross. I expect that you would have people in common though. I'll ask her for a few names when I see her next. XXXX

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  7. A wild and crazy potter at an art show where I exhibited generally brought his raku kiln to demonstrate his art. I believe he used a gas cylinder to fire it, and, of course built a reasonable fence around it, and manned it constantly when it was hot. I think the demo took the edge off his dreads and dirty clothing, or maybe added to the mystique. He sold well.

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  8. I think it is wonderful to have such treasures from that time in your life. I would expect that just looking at them keeps the period very real...

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    Replies
    1. A tangible contact with the past.

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  9. To this day Granny has an elephant with mahout that I fashioned out of clay and fired aged ten. I look at it now and think, 'about right for a ten year old'.

    I had never heard of Raku or the process. I really like the first pot.

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    1. The first one is more 'Raku-like' that the second one, but the second one is actually much nicer than in my photo.

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  10. I like the look of your old raku pots. I have not heard of raku either but will now look out for this type of pottery. Thank you.

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  11. Raku is fun!
    Raku means "enjoyment", "comfort" or "ease" and is derived from Jurakudai, the name of a palace, in Kyoto, that was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537–1598), who was the leading warrior statesman of the time.
    Thankyou Wikipedia!!

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