Ben and I bought some raku clay from Blick and created 3 pieces with an emphasis on forms with a strong angle to show off the surface design. To achieve success, we were advised to use the metal rib tool to create super smooth surfaces. We fired them to around 1500 so that they would harden and remain porous to receive the terra sigillata slip coats. The “terra sig” creates a white surface on the pots for the horse hair and sugar to carbonize onto, creating a beautiful high contrast effect.
Next, we fired the pots to cone 04 bisque to get them ready for the raku kiln. We started with two pieces and fired up the propane raku kiln to 1200.
Next, we got our horse hair and sugar ready to apply and shut off the flames. My son, Miciah, lifted the top of the kiln with a hand crank to give access to the pots.
The sugar was sprinkled on to the pots and instantly carbonized into black dots. The horse hair was then applied creating random lines. Sometimes it stuck and carbonized and sometimes it just fell off. So we ended up heating back to temp two more times so we could keep applying the hair and sugar for the desired effect.
It was in the 60’s and a little windy that day, so they cooled down pretty fast.
Then, we washed them off in the sink and lightly rubbed them to remove dust and debris. Next, we used floor paste wax and applied 2 coats to the surface of the pots. Finally, we put a soft buffing wheel on the lathe and buffed the surfaces of the pots to produce a beautiful satin sheen that makes the contrast pop with dimension.
This was our first firing and we are very happy with the results. We can’t wait to do the next batch!!
A big thank you to Jenni Fritzlan, master potter, at Homestead Pottery for her generous help through this process. Treat your self to their inspiring gallery at www.homesteadpottery.com
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