When most potters in the west think of Raku firing, they think of what should technically be referred to as “American” or “Western Raku”. Different to a normal pottery firing where the wares cool down slowly in the kiln, Raku works are removed from the kiln at a bright red heat (1800 degrees).
Then the are subjected to a post-firing reduction or smoking.
Once the work is removed from the kiln with tongs and has been placed in containers of combustible materials, the magic begins.
The Smoke and the removal of oxygen in the reduction chamber all contribute to the changing colors and pattern of the Raku wares.
This post reduction blackens the raw clay, causes the unique crazing in the glaze surface and fosters the unpredictability of the process.
The western Raku firing process was introduced and made popular by Paul Soldner in the late 1960’s.
“ In the spirit of Raku, there is the necessity to embrace the element of surprise. There can be no fear of losing what was once planned and there must be an urge to grow along withe the discovery of the unknown. In the spirit of Raku: make no demands, expect nothing, follow no absolute plan, be secure in change, learn to accept another solution and, finally, prefer to gamble on your intuition. Raku offers us deep understanding of those qualities in pottery which are of a more spiritual nature, of pots by men willing to create objects that have meaning as well as function.”
Traditionally, Raku tea sets are used for a tea ceremony with roots to Zen Buddhism, Most commonly in Japan, it is called “Chanoyu”. It is used as a means to better connect spiritually with the environment and for Human contemplation.
Purity can be reached through four senses:
Hearing; when one here’s the sound of the water.
Sight; When we see the beauty of the flowers.
Touch; When smelling the fragrances
Taste; When sipping the Tea.
The Raku Tea ceremony conveys:
Harmony: is the way of leading oneself to harmony with nature.
Respect: is polite, cordial relationship with others.
Purity: is purity of the mind, heart and intentions.
Is the apogee of all three of the preceding principles.
Tranquility is the harmony of the moment acceptance of the surrounding, respect for other people and things, purity of intention, peace of mind and appreciation of nature. In the spirit of Raku and “Chanoyu”, maybe we should all sit down and HAVE A CUP OF TEA!