The images and description below track the production of our raku pottery from design to final quality control.
1.THE MODELLING PROCESS
First a solid model is made by the designer. A master mould is then made from this original model. From the master mould (the negative) we cast a solid (positive) of which a working mould (negative) is made.
2.THE PRESS MOULDS
The working mould is then used for production. Most of the moulds we use are press moulds.
3.CLEANING THE ITEMS
After the items are taken from the mould, excess clay is removed and the items are smoothed.
A pattern is then etched into the wet clay.
5.THE BISQUE FIRING
The first firing, also called the bisque firing, is done in an electric kiln at a temperature of 1000°C. It takes place once the clay has dried out sufficiently. This generally happens between one and three days after production. This firing takes about 12 hours with an additional 12 hours for the kiln to cool down.
Once the first firing has taken place the items are known as bisqueware.
7.PAINTING THE BISQUEWARE
The painters then hand-paint the bisqueware with Raku glaze and small brushes.
8.TRANSPORTING ITEMS TO THE RAKU KILNS
After the painters have completed their task, each item is carefully transported to the kilns. The Raku firing is the second and last firing and this time it takes place in a gas Raku kiln.
9.THE RAKU KILNS
The items in the kiln are rapidly heated to 950°C.
10.REMOVING THE COVER OF THE RAKU KILNS
After 20-25 minutes, and while the items are still red hot, the kiln cover is removed.
11.COOLING THE ITEMS
A little cooling-off takes place ... During this stage the red hot clay body comes into contact with the much colder air around it and the glaze cracks as a result.
12.TRANSFERRING THE ITEMS TO THE SAWDUST DRUMS
The still-hot items are transferred to a waiting drum of sawdust.
13.THE SAWDUST DRUMS
The Raku items smoulder in the sawdust and the resulting smoke penetrates the fine cracks that were caused moments earlier. The cracks become black as a result of this process. The smoke also blackens the unglazed surfaces.
14.REMOVING THE ITEMS FROM THE SAWDUST
After about 30 minutes the items are removed from the sawdust to cool down further.
Each item is then washed, carefully checked for quality and then either stored on a shelf in our stockroom or immediately packed for an order.