"Raku Pottery Party"
May 19, 2012

On the sunny Saturday afternoon of May 19, 2012, the Valley Arts Alliance held their Fourth Annual Raku Pottery Party at Pat Garley's Arctic Fires Bronze in Palmer, Alaska. ¬†Although we describe it as a “party”, this is actually an informal workshop conducted by VAA artist Karen Lopez, who owns Still Waters Pottery in Palmer.

Karen is well known for her Raku pottery, and recently demonstrated the creation and firing of her Raku pottery at the annual “Valley Arts Alliance Art on Fire Iron Pour Art Fest" last June.

The creation of Raku pottery requires both heat and smoke to create the unique patterns and designs.¬† Karen provides each participant with two vessels or pots of fired and unglazed ceramic ware, known as bisque.¬† The participants then decorate their vessel with a variety of glazes, and the vessels are then fired in one of Karen’s special Raku kilns.

After firing for approximately 30 minutes, the “red hot” vessel is placed inside a metal can full of combustible materials, such as newspapers, and the metal can is 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.