Studio # L 107
I am a practitioner of Raku, a form of pottery that originated in 16th century Japan and involves the rapid firing, smoking and cooling of low temperature earthenware. In my studio, we do a variation of Raku called ‘Naked Raku’, which uses no ceramic glazes (hence naked) but simple white or colored slips (clay and water) and seeks an organically cracked surface decoration. After initial bisque firing, a thrown pot is covered with a slip. I then fire the pot quickly in an outdoor kiln, remove it at around 700°C, and place the pot in a closed container with combustible material such as sawdust. The ignition of this material creates a carbon filled atmosphere around the piece. During this step, the carbon penetrates between cracks in the slip, developing shadowy lines and star-like patterns underneath. In the final stage of Naked Raku, the cooled slip surface falls off like an eggshell and reveals black and gray cracks and shadows over a polished white or colored background.
Tom Friedman, Studio Potter