Tonight I return to an old process that was introduced to me almost two years ago: firing a Raku Kiln. This type of firing originated in Japan over 500 years ago. The vessels that come out of this process don't serve a utilitarian purpose as the pots cannot hold water for very long and the glazes for raku are lead based. Raku is a hands-on process that relies on your convictions to be fierce when it comes to plucking the pots out of their burning furnace and releasing them into a bed of paper for them to rest.
Because it is a hands-on, this firing method is highly experiential. Like weaving a basket, raku firing needs constant care and attention to receive the desired effect. The heat of the baking pots flares across the face like a warm South Carolina breeze in summer. Depositing the pot to disintegrate the nest of papers produces a billowing flame comparable only to an Autumn bonfire. Movement by movement and step by step, you see the pots maturing in a seemingly magical way. What most perceive as magic, however, is actually a scientific resolution. The reaction of clay to glaze, glaze to heat, heat to cooling, and glaze to reduction and oxidation is something that is most rewarding to witness in the process of one's own work.
Even tonight, as I once again witness this process, I am still inspired to continue my endeavors of alternatives firing processes. The last of my raku pots for the night are cooling down and I am starting to clean up shop here in the studio. Reflecting on this process is really exciting. The works coming out of this are but a mere stepping stone along the path I am choosing to take. It will be a long journey, that much I can tell you. But this process is another aspect of life. There are no guarantees and it is not something you can control. That is all a part of embracing who you are and remaining open to what lies ahead.