The art of naked Raku
We throw the pot on the wheel using a heavily grogged stoneware clay to give added strength to the pot which has traumas yet to come.
When the pot is leatherhard it is sprayed with a burnishing slip and burnished with a pebble to a glass-like finish. Then it is dried and has its first firing in the electric kiln to vitrify the clay.
After the first firing we spray the pot with a resist slip, which is a coating of flint and powdered clay, to separate it from a second spray coat of clear glaze.
Once the resist and glaze is dry and powdery to the touch a design is carved through the resist using a wooden or metal tool. Now the pot is ready for its traumatic final firing.
We place the pot in the big, outdoor, gas fired kiln. The temperature is steadily raised to a glowing red-hot 950 degrees centigrade. Then, while still glowing, we transfer the pot to a container of sawdust.
The sawdust ignites and billows with smoke. The lid is put on the container and the smoke is left to penetrate through the exposed clay surface and through the cracks and spots that develop in the glaze and resist!
After a few minutes the pot is taken from the container and water is splashed over it. Amidst clouds of steam, the glaze explodes off the pot revealing the etched pattern in black and white, with the edges softened by penetration of the smoke. It is a magical moment!
When the pot is cold we scrub it clean of the resist slip and, after drying, we bring it to its full glory with beeswax.