Raku firing is always full of serendipity and excitement to see the final results of the process! The final ‘coat of many colors’ is always a pleasure to see. While my ‘firemeister’ and husband Robert Leuallen and I have been at this for nearly two decades, it’s still a process that we both love.
These pictures are from a recent firing we were both very pleased with! There are two Lidded Vases, which many prefer using as urns because it’s a way to have an urn in one’s environment as both an object of art and as an urn.
As long as I’ve been making raku and think I’ve seen it all, along comes a new raku pottery piece with coloration I’ve not seen before. I guess that illustrates just ONE of the many reasons I love this process so. I work with a fairly limited palette of glazes but there are many ways of combining them. This particular piece has a matte base glaze with a glossier glaze dripped diagonally over the surface. Most of the time, when I combine these two, the dripped part frequently goes all copper, but in this case it’s a rich deep black and I loved the way it turned out!! I am especially fond of the copper “halo” around one of the black drips in the first picture. I may (or may not) see coloration like this again! Here are the results:
This raku pottery lid was created especially for my Mother who is now passed. I made functional work years ago. Sugar bowls and honey pots were a favorite among my family, but at this time my Mother’s arthritis in her hands was so crippling that she had trouble grasping certain things with her index finger and her thumb.
So, I set about thinking of a way to make a pottery lid in such a way that removing the lid would be easy for her. Then I began using the same type of lid on my raku pottery pieces as many others seemed to like them too.
My raku pottery studio is my ‘happy place’! I love working there and feel so fortunate to have such a wonderful studio right here at home. It holds quite a bit of equipment: 2 potter’s wheels (one for throwing and one for trimming), a slab roller, an extruder, about 9 wire racks, a large Skutt electric kiln and a ‘Peter Pugger’ which enables me to reclaim scrap clay. The pugger is such a workhorse…..and the re-processed clay comes out de-aired and such a wonderful consistency for throwing on the potter’s wheel! My husband Robert Leuallen, who is also my ‘raku firemeister’, manages all the clay reclamation and I cannot say enough about what a fine job he does! We’re quite the team if I do say so myself.
This is a picture of me at my throwing wheel. I’ve arranged this one wall of my studio (the one directly facing me as I sit on the wheel) so that there’s an easy flow from newly thrown items ultimately to the electric kiln at the end of the line. I have a rack between each wheel, so following throwing a piece, it is placed on the rack to my left to dry to leather hard. The next day, I sit at my 2nd wheel and can easily grab the new piece to trim it up. Following that, it goes on the next shelf to my left where it stays until it’s bone dry. When all the pieces on that shelf are dry, it’s very easy to move them from that shelf right into the electric kiln for a bisque firing.
This shows me at my throwing wheel and two freshly thrown items on the rack to my left.
This picture shows my workbench and part of my slab roller. My two wheels are on the other side of the workbench area.
I’m always looking for raku pottery additions and sometimes they come from unique sources!
As I trim my raku pottery, I notice some interesting, organic shapes occur very naturally such as this: to the right is my most favorite Bison trimming tool. I would see these shapes every time I trim pieces and began thinking of how to use them as raku pottery additions.
This rippled and curled portion of trim holds my interest!
So, on one of my newly thrown vases, I made a raku pottery addition of the damp, rippled and circular trim piece.
This is the beautiful rippled trim piece serving as a ‘frame’ for this beautiful druzy.
I left the raku pottery addition un-glazed so that it would blacken with carbon when it was fired. One of the unpredictable things that happened when this piece was fired is the rim of the vase (which is usually blazing copper in coloration) had peacock and fuscia colors which perfectly accents the beautiful druzy on the front of the vase! I love it when that happens!!
Completed raku vase with druzy gemstone ‘framed’ by the rippled clay trim piece.
This large raku wall hanging is the result of patron’s requests! My husband and I were exhibiting and selling at three juried Fine Art Shows out of state and, at the time, my largest piece (we were told) would get ‘swallowed up’ on the very large walls of customer’s spacious homes. We heard this same message from several couples……they all loved our work, but couldn’t we make some pieces that were larger?
So, I began dreaming about the request and have to date made several large scale pieces. This is the latest triptych which features mountains, evergreens and a soaring bald eagle on the oval of the raku wall hanging. It fits with several genres of interior design and is a gorgeous piece! It is still available for purchase at my shop on ETSY.
I had a glorious time making and finishing this beautiful raku wall hanging! Thanks for visiting!
Close up of the bald eagle featured on the central oval.
Large Raku Mixed Media Wall Hanging includes fibers, bead work, copper wire spirals and turquoise metal feathers.
This raku wall mirror illustrates the maturity of the glossy raku glaze I used on it.
This raku wall mirror with horses is an example of my usage of original imagery. The unique stylized form of the horses have a very personal meaning to me…..and I call them “Guardian Horses”.
When I was young, I wanted a horse more than anything and my Father used my motivation to teach me about saving money. If I really wanted a horse, I’d need to work for it and save my pennies…….and that I did…..for a long time! Finally, the day came that a beautiful dapple grey mare became my own. I had money for the horse, but not for a saddle, so I needed to learn to ride bareback.
I cannot tell you how many times I fell off her back….and I’d be in the middle of nowhere, several miles from the house and corrals. Sweetheart of a horse she was, she never left me, though she easily could have. It was as if she thought I was one of her very own children……she would stand patiently…. looking intently at me as if concerned that I was ok. For that reason, and in her honor, the Guardian Horse is featured on several of my raku wall pieces…..in this case a Raku Wall Mirror.
This Raku Wall Hanging was one of my many commissions and I was delighted with its outcome as was my customer!
She had seen, and purchased other raku wall hangings from me and wanted a larger piece to complete her display. This piece is mixed media containing varied textures & colors of fibers as well as bead work. I’m somewhat of a pack-rat where supplies are concerned! If I see something I think will enhance my work, I buy it long before I’ve actually created the piece it eventually will be used with. I enjoy combining things that seem opposite which is why I added the soft tactile fiber work with the sleek raku surface.
Raku Wall Hanging commissioned by customer.
My raku pottery often receives extra individual expression via my own sculpted additions. In this case, two dragonflies were originally sculpted from clay by myself then made into a press mold for multiple applications (stay tuned for what a ‘press mold’ looks like!). I enjoy so many art expressions and sculpture is one of them!
A press mold allows me to take moist clay, press it into the concave areas, trim it up and apply it to a still damp vessel so that it ‘becomes one with the vessel’. Soon, I’ll be adding to my blog pics of the press mold technique!
Raku Urn with Dragonflies
I have specialized in the raku firing process for more than 15 years and I love it today just as much (if not more) than when I was first captivated by raku! These two pieces featured here are but a small example of the fascination it holds for me. Both of these pieces have the same featured feather(s) and were glazed identically. If you’ve experienced raku firing, you automatically know how exciting that very last step is when you learn of the final coloration. Both pieces are beautiful while the coloration is totally different: the first has bright copper with alot of blue, the second has a gorgeous golden hue with more subtle coloration. It is just ONE of the reasons I enjoy this process so!