"Raku Pottery Party"
May 31, 2014

On Saturday afternoon, May 31, the Valley Arts Alliance conducted our 6th Annual Raku Pottery Party at Pat Garley's Arctic Fires Bronze in Palmer, Alaska. Although we describe it as a “party”, this was an informal workshop conducted by VAA artist Sandra Cook.

Raku pottery is a Japanese technique over 450 year old where Tea Ceremony bowls were fired in a very ritualistic manner, befitting the Tea Ceremony itself. The process has changed dramatically since introduced to the west, but the firing of the raku kiln and the beautiful iridescent vessels that emerge while you watch are cause for celebration.

Sandra Cook, a local potter with over 30 years’ experience, provided 2 bisque fired vessels to each participant. The participants then applied their choice of glazes, and then watched the magic of the ancient Japanese art of Raku firing.

After firing for approximately 30 minutes in Sandra’s special Raku kiln, the “red hot” vessel was placed inside a metal can full of combustible materials, such as newspapers, and the metal can was sealed. As the fire consumes the oxygen within the can, it also draws the oxygen out of the vessel and its glaze. This process, called post fire reduction, is responsible for the unique Raku look, with colors that are completely unpredictable.

The workshop lasted about 4 hours, and at the conclusion of the workshop all the participants were able to take their unique creations home.