Experimenting with Raku Firing

Ask any potter what one of the most exciting parts of pottery is and they will say ‘opening the kiln’. We use two electric kilns at Unique Cottage Pottery. They are big enough to fire the work of our sixty students and give us reliable results as the temperature is regulated by a controller that is pre-programmed.

However, tucked away in our clay store, we have another kiln. It’s smaller and is the fiery cousin of our regular kilns. It’s our raku kiln. It only comes out in the summer months and us potters get mighty excited about using it. Whereas the electric kiln can take up to 14 hours to fire, the raku kiln rapidly heats our pots to temperature in about 20 minutes. We then gingerly take them out using tongs and plunge them into a dustbin of sawdust to deprive them of oxygen and coax the glazes to do their magic that can only happen in this type of firing.

This week we had some lovely pieces emerge from the flames. In the coming weeks if you see a group of potters standing around what appears to be a dustbin on fire, please don’t walk by; stop and take a look and join in with our excitement - there’s always enough to go around.

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