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Ruku Firing Workshop

The Art of Raku Firing

In the month of May, a Raku Firing Workshop organised by the Visual Arts Department gave us the opportunity to learn a new skill. Raku firing, dating back to the 16th Century, originated in Japan, from the Japanese potter, Chojiro. It then became popular in Europe and the United States in the 20th century. Basically, for this technique, glazed ceramics are taken from the kiln while they are still glowing red hot. In other words, raku is a fast-firing and fast-cooling ceramic technique with a result that is always unexpectedly unique. In the Raku process, we first chose the glaze we would like to apply to the surface of the vase. I selected a glaze called Peacock Matte. After completing this step, our unfinished pieces were placed inside the kiln, after which the kiln was fired to 1000 degrees. It was a long and slow process and I eagerly waited for the process to be completed. After about 45 minutes, the temperature finally reached 1000 degrees. As the kiln opened, my excitement grew. However, we still had to place the pieces in an iron container to allow them to cool completely before they were considered finished. During this time, Ms Chong, our VA teacher, who made a vase using alcohol-based glaze immediately sprayed hers with alcohol as it came out of the kiln. After cooling, her vase shimmered with iridescent rainbow colors. Soon, our own pieces were also completed. Each of our works turned out differently from what we had imagined, which is the unique feature of Raku – we had no control of the final glaze patterns. I loved mine — the colors shimmered like a sunset or a ball of fire. There was even a starry pattern on the neck of the vase. Through this event, I learned the Raku process and was able to create a one-of-a-kind vase. This experience was truly unforgettable, and I would have the memory of my vase from this workshop.

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