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Raku Firing

Published on isbi School News dated Friday 15th of April 2016

Bishop's Stortford College’s artists have again been experimenting with Raku firing. Built by the College’s Artist in Residence Chris Sutherland, and with help from Old Stortfordian Danielle Moon (AH 06-15), the temporary kiln offered pupils the chance to try a different, unique method of firing their work. Raku is a complex process involving removing pots from the kiln at 1000 degrees and placing them in bins full of combustible materials which produce unique and unpredictable qualities to the work. By placing the pots in a reduced atmosphere that is starved of oxygen, the flames draw oxygen out of the copper oxide in the glaze mixture to give a beautiful range of colours and effects, they are then enhanced by the smoke from the combustible materials post firing. Dscf9442Building on last year’s successes, a new process called Obvara was tested, where 850 degree pots are dipped into a fermented yeast mixture. The results of this Eastern European technique were beautiful, giving the pots a permanent tiger loaf crust effect. The College has some highly talented pupils, who have continued to create wonderful ceramics; building the Raku kiln is part of the Art Department’s aim to help them achieve their artistic ambitions, to support and encourage pupils to push boundaries and to try something hands on and exciting. Raku firing is usually a technique only offered by universities, so College pupils have had the rare opportunity to learn and be inspired by new methods. The flames and smoke Dsc 8675created plenty of intrigue around the kiln as this technique, whilst being particularly hot, allows for multiple firings to take place during a day. During this year's firing over 13 kiln loads of work was processed throughout the 14 hour firing! Students from the Lower Fifth, Upper Fifth, Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth took part in the firing with some beautiful results from crackled metallic turquoise to the wonderfully rustic Obvara finish.
Raku Firing - Photo 1Raku Firing - Photo 2Raku Firing - Photo 3
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