Ceramic Styles Available at Vista Gallery:
Raku style pottery can be traced back to 16th century Japan where it was derived from Jurakudai, a palace in Kyoto, built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Sen Rikyu, a Japanese tea master of the time, had Chōjirō, a tile-maker, and his son, Jokei, produce hand-moulded tea bowls for use in his wabi-style tea ceremonies. It was Sen Rikyu who introduced Chōjirō and Jokei to Hideyosi, who bestowed upon Jokei the seal bearing the Chinese character for Raku, meaning enjoyment or ease. The name, Raku, and the cermaic style were then passed down through generations.
In Japan, Raku still refers to pottery created by the descendants of the Raku family for traditional tea ceramonies. Here in the West, the raku style of pottery has expanded well beyond tea pots! Here it is mainly used for decorative purposes, as the low fired and porous clay is not recommended for liquids.
For Renee Rose, pit firing is a group project. Along with several of her collegues, she will head out to the beach and dig a long pit in the sand, about 2 feet deep. Several inches of sawdust are placed in the bottom of the pit, surrounded by the driest seaweed that can be found. Occasionally people will add add dried fruit peels or other items that have fumes that color their pots. The pots are then placed in the pit. These pots have been burnished to a high sheet and then bisqued at a low temperature so that the grit in the clay doesn’t come out and take the sheen away. Often, pine needles will be placed under or around the pots in order to produce a “black spot” on the pottery, which is caused by combustion. Copper carbonate dust is then sprinkled around the pots so that one can flash a nice pink onto the pot when it reaches a volatizing temperature. Finally, the pots are covered with cow patties in order to make the pit more over-like, as well as to protect them from the fire. Once that is done, logs and kindling are placed on top and lit.
Several hours later, once the fire has died and has cooled, the pots are finally taken out of the pit. They are then brought home to be scubed and waxed.
Here at Vista Gallery, we are please to offer Renee Rose’s saggar-fired ceramics.
Like pit-firing, saggar firing uses metallic salts, such as copper carbonate or copper sulfate and iron oxide, can be sprinkled around the piece. Another option is to put some seaweed or sawdust in the saggar which will smoke your pot and turn it black in some places. Also, no glazing is used and the pots are usually burnished.
The process of saggar firing is begun by painting several coats of extremely fine liquid, called terra sigillata, onto their pots. Then, the pots are left to dry and then buffed vigorously between each coat. After that, Renee places the piece inbetween two sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil. She crumples it up, sprinkles the metalic salts around, drapes some wire over the piece, and then wraps it up. Then, the piece is fired in an outdoor raku kiln.
Gas Hi Firing/Shino Glaze
Vista Gallery has a limited number of Shino glazed pieces from Tom and Anita Morgan. These gas fired pieces are placed in a kiln for 7-12 hours until it reaches a temperature of 2400 degrees. The Shino glazes used were first developed in Japan in the late 1500′s. These glazes were primarily made up of feldspar and clay, which produced a satiny white color. As the process of making shino glazes evolved, both solda ash and spodumene were added to the feldspar and clay. The nature of the shino glazes is such that they trap some carbon from the reductive atmosphere in the kiln, thus making the areas of the glaze black or gray.
Vista Gallery Ceramic Artists: