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Ceramics Classes Intensify with Raku Firing

Students in advanced ceramics classes will have a new technique at their fingertips: raku firing. Raku, which means "happy accident" in Japanese, differs from traditional firing techniques in that it is fired faster and produces more immediate results-- which can bring out a few surprises.

Instructor David Trauba, pictured below, is excited to offer raku to his experienced students. "My classes are going to love it. The results are hands-on and immediate. With traditional ceramics, we often wait two to three days to see the final product. With raku, students will be able to see their efforts unfold during a block class."

Trauba explains that the raku kiln can be fired up to 1850 degrees in one hour. When the glaze turns glossy, the hot ceramic piece is placed in a metal barrel or container that holds organic materials like paper or sawdust. After closing the container, the material burns, producing carbon, and begins a reduction process that spurs a variety of effects and textures. Students will be able to observe the results in under two hours.

During the 1500s, Zen Buddhist monks favored the technique for its simplicity and the fact that it employs the four elements of earth, fire, air, and water. Trauba is betting that 21st century teenagers will also be fans of raku.

(Below: Instructor David Trauba demonstrates raku firing.)