We were at it again...lighting our work on fire to get metallic colors, smoky black and some unexpected results. These advanced students walked away truly understanding Raku and all the highs and lows that come with an experimental process.
Raku originated in Japan but has become a popular experimental process used all over the world. However, there are many considerations before the firing takes place. The advanced pottery students needed to make a piece of work in advance and wait for it to be bisqued fired before applying a special raku glaze. Furthermore, the firing takes place outside with a gas powered kiln. Once the kiln reaches temperature at 1800 degrees, the kiln is opened and the work is placed in a metal barrel with sawdust and newspaper and a large fire erupts. Before the kiln is opened, the students needed to decide whether they would like their artwork to be reduced or oxidized because one glaze can turn out very differently depending on the chemical reactions. In a reduction, the glaze is starved of oxygen and produces copper tones. On the other hand, oxidation exposes the piece to more oxygen and therefore fire producing metallic greens and blues. The special thing about this type of firing is how many surprises their are in such a short time. The students embraced the lack of control and left with gorgeous work.
Thanks again to Don Whitney who invites us to his house and helps facilitate the process! Check out his pottery at http://www.mudmanpots.com/index.html
Last week, we were lucky enough to have a visiting potter for a couple of blocks during the school day. Born and raised in Greece, Mike learned the craft of pottery as a 14 year old boy and left school three years later to work as a potter full time. In his twenties, when he came to the United States, "with no language", he was discouraged from being a potter but he said he "always had it in his heart". Now, retired, he is back doing what he loves most. We were fortunate to hear his journey as a potter and look through many examples of his work before he demonstrated his techniques on the wheel.
The pottery students enjoyed hearing about his life and watching him create pots in our studio. His techniques are slightly different and students were interested in those differences especially the lazy man's way of making a handle.
When Mr. Piantes told me about his uncle, Mike, and his willingness to visit our classroom, I was thrilled. Then to learn that Mike was the potter behind the dishes at my favorite restaurant, Sweet Basil, made the visit even better. What a treat!
I was excited when Ms. Beatty came to me with this project idea. She wanted to have all of the health classes reflect upon the kindness that they have received and then send some out to the world. So I had a couple of my art classes join the fun. It was wonderful to watch students carefully paint interesting designs and inspiring quotes. Take a look at some pictures of the students working and the results!
To prepare for our inspirational rock painting each class watched a Ted Talk for some food for thought. Here are the links to a few videos:
For more information on doing the Kindness Rock Project visit http://thekindnessrocksproject.com/home