What is Raku?

As a jewelry artist, do you incorporate ceramic or porcelain beads or pendants into your jewelry designs? How about raku? Awhile back I purchased a beautiful raku pendant at a bead show and, seeing how much it differed from traditional ceramic pieces, I wanted to know more about the process.

Here's what I learned from raku artist, Erica Ann (JustErica.com), and Steven Branfman, the author of Raku: A Practical Approach (Ceramics Today):

Traditional pottery is placed in a cold kiln and fired slowly until the desired temperature is reached, then the kiln is shut off and allowed to cool before the pieces are removed. During the firing process of raku, on the other hand, the clay pieces are taken from the kiln while they are still glowing and placed into containers filled with combustible materials such as sawdust, dried leaves, and newspaper. The red-hot clay ignites the combustible materials and the containers are then lidded, creating a smoke-filled chamber.

The unglazed areas of the clay absorb the smoke and turn black, and during the cooling-down period, extreme temperature changes cause cracking on the glazed areas. Once the clay pieces have cooled, the raku artist then scrubs the glazed areas clean to remove the soot and ash.



If you are interested in knowing more, I urge you to check out Erica Ann's web site, which is chock full of photos showing her process and her finished pieces, and the Ceramics Today web site, which has in-depth information for the ceramic artist.

Until next time,


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