Monday, May 28, 2012

Raku Firing (Spring 2012)

This weekend we had our Spring raku firing. The class is energetic and interested. All this is good--really good, but it also means we were there later than usual. I actually forced them out by the end because I wanted to get home.

I didn't get as many pictures as I had hoped, particularly of the stuff coming out of the kiln, perhaps my students will help me out if they took pictures.


I did get some videos, though I was directing part of the process and trying to help so I didn't always get video of each round. 

This first video is of the last set of stuff we unloaded. This was the first time these two students had opened the kiln. It was also the first time for one of the students helping with the post-firing reduction buckets. The results of this firing were quite good. Better than average. I need to ask the students to get me pictures. The two largest pieces reduced evenly all over their sides. I didn't realize it at the time, but the student waving the small white bowl was probably trying to cool it quickly to crack the clear glaze on the surface before reducing it. We aren't sure why the green bowl blew out the side, though it may have been touching the insulation of the kiln, I don't believe it was.

This next video was from the first round. I was trying to direct and to record, so the video is shaky (beware motion sickness). Students are unloading the kiln and trying to remove broken shards from the shelf. Early in the firing a piece exploded and we removed it but were unable to remove all of it. Actually, the piece popped twice, so we turned off the gas and pulled up the top of the kiln. I started to remove the piece when the base literally exploded in my tongs. It didn't hurt but it sure surprised me. It turns out the piece was probably still wet from being rinsed and glazed the night before. Everything else we fired sat in or on a hot kiln before loading. 

This video shows the process of trying to unload the broken (and glazed) shards we missed the first time and the biscuit (flat piece of clay on which we set work if the glaze might drip) with glaze drips. Then the hot kiln is reloaded. I only recorded one piece going in; I think I put down the camera and helped load. This time in between firings took longer than usual and was faster between the second and third rounds later in the day.

Here a piece had been cooling for a while after being removed from the post-firing reduction bucket. My daughter dropped in a little seed or something from a tree and watched it burn and jump. I started recording to catch the "ting-ting" of the cooling glaze but kept recording because I was entertained by my daughter's interest in the burning seed.

This last video is a short recording of unloading a piece from the post-firing reduction bucket. The piece has been reducing and cooling for a while, though, as you can tell, is still hot enough to light the shredded paper on fire.


action shot: post-firing reduction bucket

piece recently removed from post-firing reduction bucket

cooling pieces

emptying the post-firing reduction buckets

horse-hair on naked raku

post-firing reduction buckets (after firing)

I gave my daughter my iPhone before we unloaded the last kiln. But I also gave her instructions to stay back behind where we were firing, so most of the pictures either include people's backs or are avante garde arrangements of her fingers over the lens (intentionally) or the subtle pattern of shredded paper on pavement. Here are two that include no rears.

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