Raku Vase
Raku Vase

The process of making Raku Pottery differs from other firing methods, because the pots are removed from the kiln at their maximum temperature, when the applied glaze is melting.

Thermal shock from this rapid cooling is stressful on the pottery.  It is achieved by using an open clay body.  The porosity of the clay body acts like a shock absorber, preventing the body from immediately fracturing when the pot is removed from the hot kiln.

Molten hot pots being removed from a Raku kiln using long handled tongs.
Molten hot pots being removed from a Raku kiln using long handled tongs.

Raku glazes are often fractured, which is referred to as crazing.  These crackle glazes are enhanced by the post firing smoking of Raku pots that embeds carbon into the crackles of the glaze.

After the pots are removed from the kiln they are placed in metal drums that contain organic matter that catches fire and by covering the container carbon is created and it gets embedded into the clay surface.
After the pots are removed from the kiln they are placed in metal drums containing organic matter which catches fire.  Covering the container prevents oxygen from getting in and the resulting carbon gets embedded into the unglazed clay surface.

Raku was developed in Japan during the 16th century and is frequently associated with Zen Buddhism and the Japanese Tea Ceremony.   The word Raku means “joy” or “happiness”.