Carla Pownall

Raku pots by Carla Pownall Raku pots by Carla Pownall
Raku owl on a post by Carla Pownall Raku rings in kiln
Raku pots by Carla Pownall
Array with dragonfly Pebble pots of various sizes up to 10 inches
Stoneware by Carla Pownall

Raku

I am also experimenting with Raku, originally a Japanese technique used at tea-drinking ceremonies. The method I use is different from that of the ancient Japanese one, in that oxygen is removed from the glazes during and after the firing. This technique is called post firing reduction.

After making the pots for Raku, they are bisque fired to 1000 deg.C. I then put various glazes onto them, all of which I have made. These glazes are designed to crackle. The pots are then re-fired outside in the garden in a kiln using a gas burner. When the kiln reaches the required temperature to mature the glazes, usually at approximately 1000 deg.C. I remove them, red hot and glowing, and drop them into bins containing sawdust. The sawdust immediately ignites and a lid is placed over the bin to exclude the entry of air. The pots, still burning and needing oxygen to do so, use all the oxygen they can take from the atmosphere in the bin and from the glazes themselves. For example, a glaze made with copper oxide (normally green) will burn away some of the oxygen which is present in it, thus becoming copper coloured. Areas of the pot left unglazed become black due to the dense smoke generated in the bin. This smoke is drawn into the body of the pot and into the crackles of the glaze.

It is a very exciting and often unpredictable method of firing which takes place very quickly, usually over a period of less than 45 minutes. When the pots have cooled, they are scrubbed to remove the burnt sawdust and the lustrous glazes are revealed.

The raku pots are purely decorative and the surfaces are smooth and tactile.