Sunday, December 10, 2006

Raku (i.e. Post Fire Reduction or American Raku)

Raku, that’s what I’m doing when I’m not working or blogging. Gotta take a break every now and then to appease the kiln gods. These pics are in no particular order, different firings, different days. I have a big firing scheduled for next weekend, been concocting new glazes and I’m itching to try them out.

These pieces are being yanked from the kiln at about 1950 degrees Fahrenheit. The two in front are the work of a friend who does mostly standard fired vessels. She comes to my place when she wants to raku.

These are test pieces. The tall one is a wheel thrown thing I did more as a joke than anything else, we call it Mr. Microphone.

These are all wheel thrown and raku fired.

And of course I’m still doing raku lamps. This one has a hand-sculpted lizard on it. I don’t do many of these since all of the little fingers and toes fall off during the sculpting process and have to be reattached after the lizard is attached to the lamp, very tedious.

--------------- Just another lamp, the end. ----------------


Blogger Orhan Kahn said...

That is simply amazing! Wish there were more photographs..

7:55 PM, December 10, 2006  
Blogger Cheesy said...

Do you sell your work???
If so got a site kiddo?

9:11 PM, December 10, 2006  
Blogger mist1 said...

Cool. I thought you were deep frying a turkey.

9:35 PM, December 10, 2006  
Anonymous hammer said...

Really nice! I collect pottery so if you sell em post a link.

11:03 PM, December 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would love to buy a slag original too (in parts of the uk that is possible yknow LOL)

4:04 AM, December 11, 2006  
Blogger skinnylittleblonde said...

No Doubt Slag! Your work is just beautiful! I like the tall skinny Mr Microphone & I love all of your lamps! I am just amazed at what a wonderful talent you have! PLease post a link, if you sell.

9:09 AM, December 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stop showing off! Is there anything that you're NOT good at?!?

11:21 AM, December 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You artistic types make me sick. And I don't mean jealous-sick, I mean I-ate-bad-sushi sick. Or maybe I just ate bad sushi...either way...SICK!

Cool lamps, though.

12:44 PM, December 11, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Orhan, thanks, I have scads of photos. I’m trying not to bog my blog with excessive numbers of jpegs. The term is “appropriate blog husbandry” I think.

Hey Cheesy, I do sell my work but only locally and sporadically. A website is in the works but I’m still a long way from being able to quit my day job.

Hi Mist1, my homemade raku kiln, the one in the picture, can reduce a whole turkey to a small pile of white powder in less than 10 minutes. My max temperature so far is just under 3000 degrees.

Hi Hammer, my website is still several months away. My day job is the only thing stopping me from potting full time. I’m still only selling locally since the demand is more than I can produce. Someday…

Hi Judith, I can’t even imagine what the shipping costs would be, far more than the pottery is worth I think.

Hi Skinny, thank you for your kind words, the website is still in the works.

Hey Doc, believe me, there’s plenty of things I totally suck at, taking out the garbage and doing the dishes are just two of them.

Hi Kara, I have been accused of various crimes and misdemeanors in my lifetime, this is the first I’ve been accused of spreading the scours. Btw, I think you northwesterners refer to the “scours” as dysentery or the screaming shits or some other such thing.

1:13 PM, December 11, 2006  
Blogger Anne said...

Oooohhh! Aaaahhh! Do you think you will be selling them non-locally in the future? Can't wait for the website!

6:24 PM, December 11, 2006  
Blogger Crankster said...

Thank you so much! I'd never seen it spelled out before. I always thought it was "Ragu." Like the sauce.

Your work is beautiful. Thanks for showing it.

6:35 PM, December 11, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Anne, I sure hope so. It would signal a change of career that I’ve dreamed of for over 30 years.

Hi Crankster, I’ve heard it pronounced Raccoon, Rangoon, and of course Ragu. Technically, we are supposed to call it American Raku or Post Fire Reduction since the term Raku belongs to a family of Japanese potters going back to the 16th century. It’s a long story.

9:17 PM, December 11, 2006  
Blogger Anne said...

Do you mind if I give you a link with a photo of your pottery on my artsy blog? (I'll just copy a pic from here.) i want to start a sort of art-related blogroll or featured artist section. I'd probably update the link when you get the business website up.

11:26 PM, December 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was there an intimation that if one were to suffer a journey to your part of the world, THEN these could be purchased? And the "Mr. Microphone" is a bong- I can tell...

Jeez Slag- you may have too many talents. What's stopping you from letting this become your "day job" exactly? And the greenish work in the fourth picture down- it has a home already? Bribes could be proffered...


11:29 PM, December 11, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your works!My grandfather used to collect raku fired ceramics and that's how I came to know of them.The patterns and textures of Raku are truly amazing to see.You ought to be selling your wonderful works!They are beautiful.

1:26 AM, December 12, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Anne, I would consider it an honor. I think there are countless artists out there who would appreciate having their works displayed. It always feels good to get a little validation especially considering how people tend to be their own worst critics.

Hey Stucco, coming to my part of the world would indeed result in a bit of suffering. While I consider the town in which I currently live to be an oasis, passing through the surrounding wasteland would definitely teach a hard life lesson to those not accustomed to psychic misery. Regarding Mr. Microphone, a lot of my pots do bear an uncanny resemblance to that noble implement, the bong.
The day job? It is an economic necessity resulting in part from a conspiracy perpetrated by the Medical Industrial Complex. They soak up more of that filthy lucre than I could earn in the pottery business. I am doomed to my current career for at least another 20 years. After that, they can kiss my shiny red ass.
And last, but not least, the greenish one in the fourth picture lives with another family these days. Its body is gone but the soul remains. When my website goes up, I will send some of my babies to distant lands but shipping costs will determine how far they can travel before the laws of economics render them obsolete. As a reference point, my little shop of horrors is in south central Texas. My last road trip to Portland Oregon took something like 42 hours to drive. I think the shipping would be somewhere between one billion and one trillion dollars. ;-)

Thanks Fuzzy, the unpredictable colors and patterns are what hooked me on raku. I am still awestruck every time one of them comes out of the can in one piece, much less with a successful glaze finish. It’s voodoo I tell ya.

1:51 AM, December 12, 2006  
Blogger Anne said...

You're right, there are countless artists who would like to, and deserve to be recognized. I can only blog about the ones I know of, of course. I for one would love to hear more about your craft and see more pix. What percent of the pottery comes out good? Can you sand and redo the glaze? If you don't like it, is it just trash then?

9:22 AM, December 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, Slag... love the lizard! Love the earthy look! I know what you mean about all the little toes and stuff... I tried attaching a tree to a pottery plate. I think I'd fare better to carve it on there, than try that again.

5:35 PM, December 12, 2006  
Blogger Humour and last laugh said...

Very creartive thing to do when you are not blogging or working.

9:12 PM, December 12, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Anne, I’ve been at it long enough to push the failure rate down to about 5 percent. Failure comes in two flavors, cracked/destroyed pottery, and oxidized/dull glaze. Technically, you can re-fire a piece if the glaze doesn’t do what you want it to do, but you can pretty much count on significant damage to the vessel due to the destructive nature of the raku process. Imagine putting boiling hot water in an ice-cold drinking glass and then multiply the stress by several hundred degrees. Most of the time, unless you intend to incorporate the damage into your end product, you are better off giving the piece a decent burial. I prefer beating the failures with a hammer. There is something oddly pleasurable in getting rough with a delicate piece of pottery. Sometimes the larger pieces go in the garden, sometimes in the garbage can, but they always go with great disappointment considering the efforts expended to get it all the way to the raku firing.

Hi Shimmerrings, I can’t imagine dealing with all of the limbs and leaves. I’m getting a belly ache just thinking about it. I’ve seen some pretty cool stuff with leaves and sticks pressed into the clay. It’s definitely not the same effect but much less harrowing I suspect.

Hi Humour, I have been working way too much lately. Both my pottery and blog have suffered as a result.

9:34 PM, December 12, 2006  
Blogger Anne said...

That's really interesting. I wondered why the pottery looked metallic. Then you can control the colors to a certain extent by what metals go into the clay? Are these safe to put food or water in? Is this similar to the pottery fired in buffalo chips? So then, is this where you got the intriguing name of your blog?

12:20 AM, December 13, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hey Anne, the metals are the key, cobalt carbonate for blues, red iron oxide for reds, copper carbonate for greens, and a full spectrum of colors by combining oxides/carbonates and adjusting fire (pre and post) timing. My glazes are non-toxic but not food safe due to the micro-cracks (crazing) that are inherent to the heat stress, you know, food particles, cleaning, etc. There is also the danger of vases leaking water due to larger cracks that might form although most of my stuff is waterproof. Buffalo chips can be used in raku post-fire-reduction, pit firing, slip resist-smoke firing, etc. They can also be used for buffalo chip wars and chip throwing contests, very versatile those buffalo chips. For raku post fire reduction, you can use lawnmower scriffens, dried cat turds or old underwear, anything that produces a desired effect is game although I have settled on shredded office paper and hardwood sawdust. And yes, the raku process is responsible for my blog name. The chemistry and physics behind raku post-fire reduction is still a subject of heated debate amongst people who consider chemistry and physics their job. It’s Alchemy I tell ya!

8:28 AM, December 13, 2006  
Blogger madpotter said...

Great stuff, Slag! I really like your forms and glazes. I wish you could slather more photos of your work all over your blog. I do hope you get a website up so I can order me a lamp, freight be damned! It's nice to know that that talent and potential is there just in case you have to tell them about kissing that ass a few years earlier than planned. Or they tell you to kiss theirs, which is becoming all too common.

10:23 AM, December 13, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Madpotter, thanks, it’s good to get an encouraging word from a fellow potter. I’ll put more jpegs up soon, maybe a video if I can get my computer to run Pinnacle Studio.

7:06 PM, December 13, 2006  
Blogger Goncalo Veiga said...

Oh my! How nice!!! You just revealed your true skills! They are absolutely marvellous! Maybe you could create a blog just with photos of each item... That'd be superb!

Good luck on your work and, if you plan to, in your sales! ;)

11:30 PM, December 13, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Goncalo, thanks. With any luck, my pottery website will be up and running in the near future. One of these days, I’ll shut my work life down and retire to my little pottery shop for good.

12:16 AM, December 14, 2006  
Blogger Irene said...

Dang! How can some people be so magnificently creative? ;p

11:16 AM, December 14, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Hi Irene, thank you for your kind assessment of my humble efforts. I like to think I’m occasionally capable of creativity under the right circumstances, but I’m pretty sure I will never be deserving of the “m” word. However, as this might be the only time I ever see that word used to describe anything I’ve done, I intend to wallow around in it before resuming my regular life. ;-)

3:18 PM, December 14, 2006  
Blogger Melissa said...

Oh my, very nice! I join the hordes asking for a website. Excellent work.

9:20 PM, December 15, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Melissa, thanks for dropping by. I’m a little overwhelmed by the response to my little clay pots. Thank you very much.

11:46 PM, December 16, 2006  
Blogger Master G said...


9:25 AM, December 18, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Thanks master g, I’ll do my best.

12:49 AM, December 19, 2006  
Blogger Agent Kitten said...

Sometimes it is best to leave our hobbies as hobbies, not full time work, know what I mean?

1:37 AM, December 25, 2006  
Blogger slaghammer said...

Agent K, I know exactly what you mean. In the battle between art and economics, happiness and contentment are usually among the bodies piled up for mass burial at the end of the day. Btw, please pardon the melodrama, it is Christmas morning after all.

10:58 AM, December 25, 2006  

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