FINALLY… After many years I finally got my chance to fire some ceramics in a raku kiln and had the whole very nice, fun and risky experience. I must say I was lucky as all 8 pieces survived and not just that, I am extremely pleased with the results.
While doing some ceramic techniques, control is a word that has no place, and raku is one of those techniques where you must let go of any expectancy since there are so many factors that influence the outcomes, that is better to just flow and enjoy, and be happy with whatever turns out.

It was a super long day and many, many kilns turn. We were quite a varied group of people all firing together and that made the experience even more interesting. It was, somehow, a collective work.

Here are some images of the process and the pieces as they come out of the smoky chambers.
Skye Terrier sculpture RAKU
dog ceramic sculptures

This is how the day went…

Sunday morning I drove 40 minutes with my 8 sculptures and Zissis (my bitch) down to the ceramic factory. At 9.30 we all had a table to put our stuff and start working on glazing our pieces. 

Since it was my first time doing this, I only had an idea of what I wanted, but I wasn’t really sure how to achieve it, so I wandered around quite a bit asking questions and deciding to make some test tiles to try out colors. So my first adventure was quite a low risk. However, as I was done with my tiles I had already gotten the courage to wildly risk two of my pieces trusting my guts and hoping it was the right decision. 

So, there they went the little Dachshund and my little Zissis (not the real one, but the sleepy sculpture I did of her).

AMAZINGLY ENOUGH, they both turned out great!! The little Dachshund was a real bet because I wasn’t sure the color would really turn out as someone described it, but it did!! And wow, I was thrilled with the results, it completely matched the piece.  


My final decision for the rest of the pieces was quite conservative. I had an idea in mind when I went there and after seeing the tiles and my little Zissis I was sure I wanted to try the same look for everyone. Of course, saying ‘same’ is not valid, because each piece got its own unique character. 

I thought it would be fun to explain you a bit of the process:

First, you need a bisque fired piece. This means something that has been in the kiln at 980C. 

Then you need to glaze the piece. There’s some planning and decisions to be made in order to achieve the ‘desired outcome’, and a lot of trust in that it will turn out how you envision LOL – it doesn’t always goes that way.

Once the piece is glazed it goes into a kiln that gets fire from a direct flame. There must be enough oxygen coming in so there are wholes in the kiln for that purpose (see photos) 

The fire will go on for about 40 minutes or until the temperature we need is reached, we needed around 950 C ! Yes, that is hot!!

As soon as this was ready the kiln is open and someone (an expert) fished the pieces out of the very hot kiln. 

The pieces go then into some barrels where they will get smoked! Paper is added so it burns and the smoke does its job. This can last 10/15 minutes. The expert checks the colors to see if the glazes have the expected effects and decides what to do next. 


The options are, more fire is added so smoke continues for another while, OR the pieces go into sawdust for the heat to do some work (some glazes or effect must go there – my pieces went there because I needed the effect to be created this way) 

And lastly, the VERY HOT pieces will jump straight into water! The thermic shock helps with effects.

All this can happen very fast, and a lot of different pieces are going through the same process at once! So, several people are helping and keeping track of what is going on! 

Everything is quite dangerous since everything is hot and fragile!


dog sculpture in a ceramic kiln

After the water, the pieces are cool and they need to be cleaned to discover the results! This part is very exciting, it was fun because with my dogs it made me think of puppies when they are born they are dirty and weird-looking hahaah! After you rub them they come to life! The same happened here. Looking at the pictures of my pieces they looked like newborns.

Jack russell Terrier Sculpture

Here are some of the finished pieces of the day!

If you would be interested in a RAKU piece please get in touch and let me know what breed you’d like. I plan to do this again later this year, there’s a chance to have some pieces ready for Christmas.

email me at applerainart@gmail.com

jack_russell_terrier sculpture

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