The art form of “raku” originated in 16th century Japan. The word itself means “comfortable” or “enjoyable”. The Japanese form was developed to create simple, quiet vessels associated with the tea ceremony. The ware was raw glazed, fired to harden the clay and melt the glaze and then the work was removed, orange hot, from the kiln and allowed to air cool.
In the 1960s, raku was made popular in the US when it was discovered that if the glazes contained metallic oxides (used for color), and cooled in combustible materials the reducing atmosphere would cause dramatic color changes, particularly with copper, to produce metallic lusters and other unusual colors.
“This was the first time I had experienced a Raku firing, and it is something I will never forget. Being actively involved with putting the piece in combustibles and how your piece comes out is especially amazing. The colors are so vibrant, you could never get that with a normal glaze firing. I really enjoyed it!” – Lexy ’16
Raku is an excellent teaching tool for students because it offers immediate gratification and allows the students to get directly involved in the firing process.