High Colour Raku

  I was introduced to Raku [A traditional Japanese Technique] at Otago Polytechnic as one of a number of different processes we were shown. It became the perfect medium for linking together my environmentally based symbols. The glossy surface of the glaze contrasted superbly with the matte black of rakued Clay.

  The ability to use colour helped me develop a number of designs that I use to decorate a variety of different handthrown and rolled forms. These thrown and hand rolled clay pieces are assembled and decorated as the clay reaches “leather hard” ; these designs are drawn with a flat bamboo stick ,sharpened at one end [ I use a flat stick with a sharpened edge] . The leather hard clay designs are “drawn” not scratched and the edges of the lines form a natural barrier for the glaze application. After the pots are dried they are Bisque fired to 950 Degrees Celsius , in preparation for glazing.

  The Raku glaze I use is 80% Standard borax frit and 20% New Zealand Ultrafine China Clay ; I add various stains to this base to create my colour palette. I have always kept this colour range quite restricted and the application of glaze follows the natural relationship the colours have to my various symbols. The “birds” are always red with yellow highlights, hills [dark green] ,rocks [brown], sand [mustard yellow] etc.

   The glaze colours are slowly built up starting from these basic colour ideals until the colour range is exhausted. The glaze must be applied to create a degree of thickness [rather than painted] ; the glazed pieces are then stacked into a small kiln for the actual “Raku” process . They are fired to 980 degrees Celsius over one to two hours and carefully removed with tongs, to waiting metal drums lined with newspaper. The drums are immediately covered and the carbon from the ensuing smoke is drawn into the rapidly cooling clay. This creates a natural matte black everywhere that glaze is not applied. The drawn lines become black outlines against a coloured glaze, I also use this Raku black, as a finish in itself on clay forms that are unglazed when fired.

 

On this site you can check out the Gallery with the latest Ceramics and Paintings by Stewart Fulljames, find more information on the artist or his domesticware, whiteware, painting and multimedia technique. Find an overview on the home page or check out contact details.

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Last updated 15 Dec 2010