Raku Glaze Firing: Baptism of Fire

Raku is a Japanese technique of glaze firing closely linked to the Tea Ceremony and was first used in Japan in the 16th century.

With the use of the Raku firing technique, I produces the first of my visual metaphors, “The Baptism of Fire”. The clay sculptures having been “created” and given a 1st firing, are then fired to about 900 degrees C by the Raku technique, drawn from the kiln red hot, and subjected to a secondary reduction by placing them in combustible medium with the restriction of oxygen. The heads rapidly cool, and as the applied glaze shrinks at a different rate to the clay, random crackling and pitting of the “skin” is produced. Sometimes large fragments are blown off the sculptures and these are later repaired by bonding techniques in an analogy to performing reconstructive surgery.

The process metaphorically reflects the vagaries of life and leave the resulting sculpture with a unique phenotype.