Raku is a firing technique used to produce one of a kind pieces of work with a "crackle" finish. Originally from China, Raku was used to make tea bowls in a portable kiln heated by wood. My kiln consists of a brick base and lined drum lid and is heated with propane.

Bisque ware that I've sculpted into "Beasties" is glazed and fired outside in my kiln. When the temperature in the kiln reaches 18000 F and the glaze is "melty", I turn the kiln off and open it up.

Using tongs or a potato fork, I very carefully lift the red hot Beasties out of the kiln and place them in a barrel of pine needles and put the lid on. Taking the pieces from the very hot kiln out into the air causes the glaze to crack.

The smoke from the pine needles goes into the exposed clay surfaces and inside the cracked glaze and gives the pieces a smoky color. There's no controlling the process so each piece has a unique crackle pattern and color. I find exiting to watch the beasties come alive!