Saturday, June 12, 2010

Raku Ho'olaule'a

Every year, usually at the beginning of Summer, Hawaii Craftsmen puts on the Raku Ho'olaule'a.
It is a gathering of artists on the beach at Waimanalo where they camp out for a weekend and fire their ceramics.
Raku is Japanese for "pleasure," and has it's roots in the traditional tea ceremony.
Contemporary raku means firing in a low fire kiln using special glazes to achieve certain effects like crackles and metallic patinas.
I did about three or four of these ho'olaule'as, but I haven't participated in one recently.
I hopped in the car and went to check it out this morning:

Portable propane tanks are used to fire kilns made from heat resistant fibre. Most of kilns are homebrewed but quite effective:

They started firing last night and will continue until tomorrow morning, when a selection is made for a gallery show.
Here's a sample of what I saw so far:

The last round thingy was pit fired, basically just thrown into a wood fire with some chemicals, and the result is similar to Native American ceramics.
Things get dramatic at night as glowing pots are pulled from the kilns and loaded into reduction cans(trash cans lined with combustibles) that produce the blackened effects.
Unfortunately, I can't go back tonight, but I did find some pics from way back in another life.
Sorry for the quality, but these were scanned.
Glowing pot coming out:

Long exposure showing pots coming out and going into the cans:

Fire in the hole!

The cans are then covered so that the glazes reduce. Meaning hopefully, the fire in the can pulls some oxygen molecules from the glaze and the carbon floating around inside blackens the clay body.
If you like, you can "burp" the can to reignite the combustibles:

I did raku exclusively for a time, but I rarely do it now. The patinas and colors fade over time so I don't feel it's fair to someone who purchases the work.
I have only five raku pieces laying around, here's one of them:

I met up with some people I know and maybe I'll give this a go next year.
Maybe even fire more ice cream cones.


John Romeo Alpha said...

Fire burps are cool. Especially if they result in ice cream cones. Where else except The Flat Tire would THAT happen? :)

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