After lunch we began the raku firing with two students and the rest of the department looking on in glee.
The glaze test samples were loaded into the outdoor raku gas kiln, sealed and the gas was ignited. We stood around discussing the various raku techniques the students had already experimented with for approximately 40 minutes before we were given the cue to start removing the pieces from the kiln. Honestly, we weren’t even sure how involved we were going to get!
With the gloves and headgear on, we removed one piece at a time and placed it into a metal bucket containing sawdust. The sawdust would immediately begin smoking but the piece would simultaneously be covered with more sawdust, the flames extinguished and then sealed inside the bucket making it airtight for that all important reduction atmosphere.
We were informed that the pieces were approximately 900˚C when removed from the kiln. Paying little attention to time and again when instructed, we uncovered and removed the pieces from the airtight buckets and slowly placed them into buckets of water. Out of the water immerged a fascinating metallic green/gold glazed piece. But we also learnt what occurs when the piece is removed before the glaze melts in the kiln. One of the pieces was under-fired and immerged with a dull matte texture: a layer of non-melted glaze. Needless to say, it was a brilliant hands-on learning experience. We are very thankful for this opportunity of learning that the Ceramic Department of the University of the Visual and Performing Arts gave us and of course to those two students who willing included us in such a hands-on manner in their firing.
Before we parted ways, the professors urged us not to miss the opportunity to travel to Biyagama and visit a pottery museum there. Accepting their suggestion, we left the campus and boarded a bus to Biyagama.