Thursday, May 13, 2010

Raku and Cracks

The only bisque I had ready for raku firing were some B-mix clay ornaments I was saving for test tiles. I didn't know if B-mix clay would be good to use for raku, but I guess it was. I didn't bring my camera to class this time so these are the only photos I have. I used a sampling of the classroom raku glazes that were already mixed up.

I am amazed at how tough red hot pots can be. These ornaments survived being dropped in the kiln while they were molten, dropped into the trashcan full of newspapers and look how they turned out. I had one more ornaments, not sure what happened to it. I emptied the trash cans but it was no where to be found, perhaps it was in the second raku firing which I didn't stay for, hopefully it'll be there next week when I return.

This one has some nice copper flashing on the top, but the photo doesn't do it justice. I am wondering how the raku guru, Tracey Broome, would advise me on picking up flat items in the raku kiln. These were really difficult to get off the kiln shelf. Perhaps if I had known I'd put them in a raku kiln I would have made the edges curl up. Since there were going to be used for test tiles I made them flat to hang against a wall.

Here's my stamp impression on the back of one of the ornaments; it shows up nicely. Gary went with me to class because he was intrigued about raku firing. As we were driving home, he said "If you get a raku kiln you need to be really organized and safety conscious". Did you hear the word "if" in there? We've been married long enough that I know I may have a raku kiln in my future. Yippee.

This nice textured vase I made a while ago cracked on the opposite side of the seam. I think I tried to manipulate it when it was too dry. The smaller fish plate also cracked and the jacaranda bowl. Frost porcelain doesn't like to be moved or manipulated till it is completely dry. So far the big platters, the poppy bowl, and another vase are surviving.

I really liked that Texas white clay I was using in the RV which I got on the West Coast. I am not sure I can get it here on the East Coast. Another favorite of mine for Cone 10 is Windsor porcelain, I could do wonders with that clay. I don't have a reduction kiln and neither does the college and I sorely miss reduction firings. I hope to find someone around here with a reduction kiln where I can occasionally put a piece or two in. I'd like to remake some of the large vases, like the crowded city vase, I did a year or so ago and use some of my high fire, reduction glazes on them.

Up next is some tattoo inspiration so stay tuned. Yes tattoos, you won't want to miss that. Comments and suggestions are welcome.


  1. darn those cracks!
    I hear that raku kiln in your future... I think Gary might love to have one!

  2. you know if you get the Olympic Kiln I have you can do reduction, just has a bit of a learning curve. Are the ornaments made with red clay or white clay? It was hard to tell. You get brighter colors with white, but very dark blacks with red. As far as picking them up, I use a small kiln post to set them on or a brick so that the edges are hanging over and I can grab them that way, also less chance of them cracking. When I glaze, I brush the glaze on and use three coats, you will get a lot of crackle that way. It's fun to see that there might be another raku junkie looming on the horizon!

  3. Hi Meredith, thanks, yeah Gary doesn't even know what he said, or maybe he does. te he.

    Hi Tracey, thanks, the clay is white clay. I like the turquoise one. They probably would have been better if I didn't have so much texture on them. I asked folks how much glaze to put and they said enough to cover. I think I only put two, next time I'll put three. I didn't want it to run on their kiln the first time. Putting them on a kiln post is a good idea, I'll remember that for next time. They were amazingly tough I was surprised, especially since it was B-mix clay. Dare I try some of that frost porcelain? I better not, if it was my own kiln I would but don't want to risk breaking someone else's work.

  4. i am envious of your raku opportunity... i can't wait until i am in nc - then i will be able to fire my raku kiln anytime (there just isn't a safe enough place to fire where i am now).
    i remember reading a blog where someone who does mostly raku fires porcelain..wish i could remember who it was so i could send you a link.
    i have used raku specific clay in the past and had more cracking than when i used the same stoneware that i fire to cone 10.
    flat items are problematic and i think the kiln post idea works well. when i have made flat pendants i fire them on beadwire in a bisqued rack that i made out of stoneware. i pick up the whole rack and drop it in the barrel. i get better reduction on small items that way - the mass of the rack ignites the paper more quickly than the small items dropped into the paper.
    your ornaments look great...have fun experimenting!

  5. that cracks me up (no pun intended) that the word "if" means you're getting a raku kiln. i like your chop mark, one of the fortunate things about having a name that's also an icon. i think if you have your flat things hang a bit over the edge of the shelf, you might be able to snatch them up easier

  6. I've had a raku party with a button maker, she put her small buttons on a bisque plate. It was easier to lift the entire plate out of the kiln and move it into a small reduction chamber or a pile of shredded newspaper which gets extinguished with a hose (thanks to Rick Berman for that process).
    I think the ornaments look great, b-mix returns nice colors in raku.

  7. Love love the top leaf Linda, how big are these? All pretty cool looking. Glad to hear you're settled and back to clay.

  8. You got me so interested in Raku I Googled it. What an amazing history! Love your chop mark. And I think Gary's picking up 'southern talk' pretty fast. Where I'm from 'if' means 'when', as in, get what you want, little lady. Yay! And meows to your gorgeous kitties!

  9. I love your raku pieces. You're right about the frost porcelain. it's crack crazy, but the drying cabinet has really helped.

  10. love the raku pieces and the chop mark! that really sucks about the cracks. that's one reason i don't use porcelain right now, maybe one day...

  11. Linda,

    you're always up to something. It's great to catch glimpses of your latest adventures. The first pic with the blue/green raku glaze is my favorite. Neat colors! Sounds like you're really enjoying raku. :)

  12. Hi Michele, thanks, I was half thinking I'd try a piece of porcelain in the raku. I have three pinch bowls I made I might put in. Please let me know if you remember who fires raku with porcelain, I'd be curious to see their work and learn more. Your idea about having a rack that would ignite easier is a good one. Wish I could see a photo of what your rack looks like. I have a regular bead wire I put in a kiln, but not sure how I would pick it up without the wire falling away. I know someone else uses a wire rack they place in the kiln and then in the newspaper which makes it easier to find the pendants later. I'll have to think about having something made up for that. Thanks again.

    Hi Jim, thanks, wonder if I should let Gary read this post or not? te he.

    Hi Lori, thanks, a bisque plate, that's another good idea. wow that's brave. I always think the water will somehow shock the pieces and cause them to break.

    Hi Yolanda, nice to hear from you again, the biggest leaf is four inches long, the rest are about 3 x 2 inches. I made them at xmas time as ornaments and then kept some I thought I would use as test tiles for cone 5/6 glazes, now they were test tiles for raku instead. I see it pays to have a bunch of bisque ware waiting in the wings for ongoing experiments.

    Hi Kittie, thanks, if means when I'll let Gary know, ha.

    Hi Cindy, thanks, I think the cracks were my own impatient fault.

    Hi Kim, thanks, I think if I didn't move the pieces before they were dry I wouldn't have had the cracks, and drying them covered helps. Porcelain gives such vibrant colors to glazes it really is worth working with. Some white stonewares are good too though. this b-mix fires pretty white, much whiter than the Texas white which has a grayish cast when fired.

    Hi Amy, thanks, the first one turned out the best. perhaps one day I'll settle into one thing, but somehow I doubt it. ha.

  13. Linda: the bisque plates, baskets, trees will only last a few firings and then they fall apart. Same if they are fired to cone 6. Metal frames are really the better way to go. I have some small square hard brick that I use. Also, if you have the pieces lying flat on a tray or brick if they go into reduction on that piece the back will not be very black and may be spotty black and white. It has been my experience that porcelain cracks badly. You need a very open clay body that will expand and contract with the thermal shock. I know there are some that have had success with porcelain but that would not be me. Highwater Raku clay has been the best for me of all the clays I have tried. Ornaments are fun to make around the holidays, if they are thin they will have lots of crackle, if they are thick they will have less crackle. I think I see a kiln in your future for sure!! Just google Raku- there is so much good information out there. Happy firing

  14. Hi Tracey, thanks for all the information. I better save my porcelain for regular firings, but I have some of that Texas white stoneware, some sculpure clay and some red clay I just got bisqued and I might try firing a few of those in raku. My ornaments were a little thick so they might have crackled better if they were thinner. I'll be studying up on raku for sure. thanks again.

  15. Hi Linda

    The top raku ornament is so lovely!
    I love it! Oh you'll certainly have a raku kiln in the near future! If I have an opportunity, I'll post about raku for you. Raku is very familiar to us so...

  16. Hi Sapphire, thanks, I would love to hear about raku from your culture's point of view. As I understand raku was named after a family and shouldn't be used unless referring to that family. so in that vein I should allude to my pieces as Starrware or Starr raku ware. I look forward to your post if you have time. Well I look forward to all of your posts no matter the subject. Thanks again.


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