Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Life is like Raku
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of watching the process of a Raku and Sager firing at the Palo Alto Art Center in the Bay area of San Francisco. I was thoroughly enchanted with the magic of the techniques, and love the idea, that no one can predict what the exact results will be.
Raku is a ceramics/pottery firing technique, whereby the artist places a painted glazed piece into the kiln and once the glaze has reached a certain point, the piece is taken and placed in a covered container filled with sawdust and newspaper. As it burns, the carbon performs an alchemy magic and colors the ceramic piece. The unglazed areas turn black, and the glazes become the color intended with whimsical crackling that cannot be predicted.
After the container had burned its course, the artists uncovered their work, unsure of what the results would be, and ready to accept whatever happened. The moments of anticipation were actually quite exciting.
Here you see ceramics artist, Jo Killen. Check out her profile at jokillenpottery.blogspot.com.
Here Jo is lifting a piece from the kiln and preparing to place it in a container. Look at the heat generated by the red glow inside one of her pieces.
Here are several finished pieces of work. You can see the top one still in the container.
Here is ceramics artist, Don Taka, with his raku piece. First, you can see the pot in the fire. Don is about to cover the can with a lid to trap the carbon in the smoke. Then, you can see him cleaning the piece, and the end result.
These pieces by Jo are the result of a Sager firing, which is a little different. Here, the ceramics are painted with a solution and sawdust, horse hair, leaves, feathers, etc. are laid on the surface. Aluminum foil is wrapped around the pieces that are then fired. Again, one is never sure what the result will be.
So, I have decided that we need to embrace life like a Raku. We are never certain what will happen, and we must be willing to accept and embrace whatever comes our way. All things have beauty, and it is up to us to see that.