The world situation with COVID19 has had an effect on the teaching ability as most schools have closed. This includes the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, Texas. However, the time spent at home and in the studio has allowed me to work on products that I have control of the finishing process. Experimentation on horse hair and raku art pieces has allowed me to keep busy.
Unloading the kiln is a little like Christmas, you never know what will be inside. — John Nelson
The RAKU firing process became popular in the West within the last 60 years. It originated in Japan in the sixteenth century where work was fired and removed quickly from the fire quickly. As it developed in the US, vessel would be pulled from the kiln or fire when red hot and placed in a container with combustible materials, (newspaper, sawdust, etc). The combustibles would ignite enabling the glaze to turn the piece into a work of art or one to re-fire.
My first experience of raku firing was during classes at Southwest School of Art in San Antonio. I was immediately “hooked” on the process and built a barrel kiln to allow firing in the back yard.
Harvey Sadow, a raku artist, sums up the process. “Regarding the raku process in general, the ultimate surrender of control after carefully orchestrating a set of possibilities always gives the pot an opportunity to be a little better than the potter.”