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raku advice

updated sun 30 nov 97


Janet Tamulevich on sat 29 nov 97

Hi Cookie,

As a raku potter for many years, here are some things that work for me. You
many want to try them:
clay - I have used all types of stoneware and slip cast without any problems
in the firing and reduction stages. The clay you use doesn't seem to matter-
but how well you've made the piece does. Uniform thickness is inportant -
uneven walls, etc invite cracking.

Firing temperature - The final temperature depends on the glaze. As you
fire, you should watch for the "ugly" or bubbling stage which tells that the
glaze is begining to melt. Continue watching until the glaze looks like
"water on ice". When you see this, you are ready to pull from the kiln.
(Please be carfull and wear protective glasses while watching the firing. .
..I've lost many an eyelash because I didn't have my glasses on.)

Post Reduction Materials - I like to use wood shavings (bought at Agway for
the hamster cages) - they come in a bale and are convenient to store. Since
I do not like wood marks lefts fused into my glaze, I put a piece of wood in
the bottom of my reduction can and then build a shaving nest around the
block. (Remember, you don't need "tons of shavings" for good reduction.)

Cooling the piece - Although it looks dramatic as steam jumps from the pot
as you imerse your pot in water, I never dump my pieces into water after
post reduction - I 've found that doing this only invites cracking. I keep
my pieces in the reduction cans for 10-20 minutes before removing. Once out
of the cans, the pieces are sprayed with a garden hose to "set' the colors.

Reading - To learn more about the raku process I highly recommend Steve
Branfman's book. Its must reading for the begining "rakuer" and a still a
valuable resource after years of raku.

Email if you have further questions, be carefull during firing and have fun.

Janet Tamulevich in cold and getting coler NH
(Would someone please do a glaze or raku workshop somewhere warm in February
so I can get out of here!)