Science and art collide at the Whitney’s house in Hingham!! On a Sunday afternoon at the end of April AP art students spent an afternoon doing a raku firing with a local potter, Don Whitney. This is a special process and fun for us potters! Check out the video to see how chemistry and art collide when we lite our pots on FIRE!!
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.
Everyone worked together to make the raku firing a success!