Each year, my husband and I set aside the first weekend in October to attend the Studio Crawl in our area. This year, we went to only a few studios, but spent more time talking with the artists.
A most fabulous artist, and all around wonderful man, happens to be my husband’s Uncle Bob. He is a potter and we were fortunate to be able to watch him fire some pots at Marbakka Studios, which is his art studio in rural North Dakota. Bob made these pots and it’s difficult to see in the photo, but the pots are covered with a glaze. It’s a powdery glaze. Bob tried to explain the glaze to me but the answer involved a lot of chemistry, which I can’t begin to explain. All I know for sure is that these will be gorgeous Raku pots when they are done.
The pots go into the kiln. They get fired at 1800 degrees.
Bob can tell by looking into the kiln if the pots are done firing. He’s been doing this for many years. The darker colored pots in the kiln have cobalt in the glaze that is on them.
Once they are ready to come out of the kiln, the glowing hot pots are taken to the reduction area. This allows them to cool slowly after leaving the 1800 degree kiln. They are placed on newspaper, which immediately catches on fire from the heat. Then, they are covered with a metal garbage can which had been filled with leaves and newspaper. During the time the pots are covered, the glaze is bonding with carbon. Again, there is a chemistry explanation that much smarter people than I understand.
I never realized until today how much science there is in art.
Raku pottery is unpredictable. Until the pieces come out from the reduction, there is no way of knowing exactly how they will look. Each one is unique. When the pots are sufficiently cooled, it is time to see the creation. This is my favorite part!
This is a most beautiful pot, fired today. I can’t stop looking at it and marveling over the metallic shades of copper, blue, and green. Thankfully, I don't have to as this pot is now proudly displayed in my kitchen.
Pot made by Robert Kurkowski, glazed during the Studio Crawl, October 4, 2009.