The Academy Center of the Arts partnered with Brett Thomas of Mobile Raku to offer a workshop about the unique process of raku. The students who enrolled in the workshop received a 25-pound bag of raku clay, with which they created stunning pieces by throwing on a pottery wheel and by hand building.
The raku process is a low-fire method in which the clay is quickly heated in a kiln until the glaze has melted. The clay is then immediately transferred to a container filled with combustible material for the post-firing phase. This immersion beautifully affects the final outcome of the glaze and the raw clay.
Normally, the firing process takes around 36 hours from firing up the kiln to cool down. With raku, the firing process only takes thirty minutes, from placing the clay in the kiln to dousing the pieces with water. The pieces sit in the kiln only until the glaze melts, which takes less than one hour. The beautiful glazes that Brett Thomas provided require about twenty minutes to melt in the kiln. Next, the fired clay spends about ten minutes in the post-firing containers. When that time is up, the pieces are then carefully transferred to the cool down station, where they are doused with water.
Many artists enjoy raku because the process is exciting and the final outcome is unpredictable. Raku is unique in that it only takes one glaze to yield a beautiful spectrum of color. Tammy Kincaid, one of the raku students, shared her experience, “We loved all of the creative energy and group experience in what was a wonderful day of glazing, firing and excitement in seeing each piece finished as it emerged from the smoke.”
Sue Coleman, another workshop participant, said, “The Raku Workshop was excellent! Brett Thomas is very knowledgeable, a good teacher, and has fabulous raku glazes. Several of my pieces are simply stunning. He achieved his stated goal of ‘I want to make sure you go away happy with your results.’ This was the second time I’ve participated in one of his workshops, and will be back again when he returns to the Academy.”
Because of the workshop’s success, Brett Thomas has agreed to bring Mobile Raku back to the Academy in March 2017. With only twenty spots available, the workshop will fill up fast. Several of the students can’t wait to return for a second time.
Learn more about all of the Academy’s pottery classes and workshops at academycenter.org/classes
Winter class registration opens December 9th.