The striking and vivid glazes on Ken’s raku pots make the metallic effect of traditional raku seem dull. Red, yellow and orange add liveliness to his unique shapes and designs. See more Raku in the gallery
Here is how he made Fiddlesticks.
To make a raku pot, I blend 50/50 Keanes White Raku and Walkers #10 Stoneware clay and process it through a pugmill to mix the clay. This blend makes an excellent throwing clay and is easy to polish.
Next, I throw the pot. The pot is polished on the wheel when the clay is leather hard using either a polished rock or small light bulb. The polishing continues at various stages during its drying time until the pot has a high sheen.
Note: if the pot is too dry when polishing it may scratch.
FIRE #1 BISQUE
It is now ready to bisque fire to 1000°/cone 06.
After the bisque fire, I draw a design on the pot and use masking tape to mask the area not being glazed.
FIRE #2 GLAZE
I apply a commercial earthenware glaze and fire the pot to 1080°/cone 03
After the glaze fire masking tape is again applied to the fired, glazed area followed by a slip to the exposed part of the pot. I prefer a naked finish which involves applying a thin layer of clay. The clay will craze during the raku fire.
FIRE #3 RAKU
The next step is to fire the piece in a raku kiln 1020°/cone 05
When fired the pot is removed from the raku kiln (I use Kevlar gloves and tongs to handle hot pottery)and placed on a hot shelf from thirty seconds to one minute. Using the tongs, I put it in a metal rubbish bin or pit containing sawdust shavings or mango leaves and strips of newspaper. Care needs to be taken as these items will fire up. A lid is placed on the bin to extinguish the flames and produce reduction effects.
Now the pot is left in the bin for approximately 15 minutes before removing and lightly spraying with water which highlights the crazing in the slip. Set the pot aside to cool.
Now the work begins.
A good quality scourer and water is used to scrub the pot to remove all the loose carbon residue.
When the pot is dry, it is polished using neutral Nugget shoe polish and a soft cloth.
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