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Saturday, July 19, 2008

Naked Raku 101

Naked raku gets it's name from the fact it's fired fast in a small kiln, and naked because it's not glazed. I took a class a few years ago and had a blast. Depending on all the variables, you get white pots with various black crackle patterns. Everything from large branches looking like lightning, to thousands of tiny ones.

The recommended clay body was just a standard raku clay that many clay suppliers make. It has a larger amount of grog and/or sand to help it take the thermal shock it's going to get later. Grog is coarsely ground, fired, fireclay. With the sand, it's the 'grit' you feel when you're throwing on the wheel. It s VERY rough on your hands!

The other clay a few people used was a high talc earthenware called Miller 10T. The talc also helps with the thermal shock. Since it didn't have any grog, they were actually able to burnish their pots to a smooth shiny surface. For my first raku attempt, I opted for the raku clay. I didn't want to end up with a pile of shards for my efforts!

As far as throwing, you want to make sure your walls are not too thick, and they need to be uniform thickness. A very thick wall will expand and contract at a different rate on the inside and outside, cracking. The same goes for any thin or thick spots. If you have a thin section going around your pot, it very well could crack around the ring, decapitating your pot.

When the pots were leather hard, the talc people trimmed and burnished theirs, the raku people just trimmed. After they were bone dry, they were bisque fired in an electric kiln to cone 05-06.

Continued at Naked Raku 102 . . .

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