Raku Firing

Harry opens the kiln & Cara uses tongs to transfer the glowing pot to the metal trash can lined with newspaper.

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Final class vessels, cooling after Raku firing

If you stroll by Studio Row when a class is doing a Raku firing at the outdoor kiln, you are in for an exciting, fiery surprise. I was lucky to catch Harry & Julie Hearne’s recent class, The Art of Throwing and Raku Firing, as they were firing their last pieces of the week.

Western-style Raku derives from a rich tradition of Japanese pottery that was made specifically for tea ceremonies. In the 1960s, it was popularized in the US by potters who were inspired by the Japanese tradition. To learn more about the differences between the two traditions, check the article American-Style Raku by Paul Soldner.

With Raku firing, the potter removes the vessel from the kiln while it is still very hot, red, and glowing. He or she uses tongs to move the piece from the kiln to a prepped trash can. Once the piece is inside, the fiery show begins! I had a great time watch the class during this process.

Raku Pot by Harry Hearne

Raku Pot by Harry Hearne

In their Brasstown studio, Turning Point Clay Studio, Harry & Julie make beautiful fine-crafted Raku vessels. Their classes at the Folk School are an invaluable way to learn all about the history, technique, and application in a hands-on environment. Harry & Julie will be teaching 2 back-to-back Raku-themed clay classes in April 2016: Build Your Own Raku Kiln and The Art of Throwing and Raku Firing.

See below for more information on these classes, and information on other Clay classes at the Folk School that explore the art of Raku.

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(L) Asa places the hot pot into the trash can for firing. (R) The glowing pots are ready to transfer with the tongs

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Asa, Zach & Cara happily examine their cooling pots.

Raku firing

Students take turns with the different parts of the firing.

Raku class "Show and Tell" in the Community Room

Raku class “Show and Tell” in the Community Room

Final pots at Show and Tell


If you are interested in Raku, check out these upcoming clay classes:

The Art of Raku with Lynn Jenkins

November 1-7, 2015

Explore the art of raku firing in this class for all experience levels. Beginning with the potter’s wheel, learn to throw pots, then apply glazes and participate in stacking and firing kilns. Pieces will be finished in a gas raku kiln for beautiful results. Experience the excitement of raku and stretch your skills.

Traditions in Clay with John E. Dodson

February 1420, 2016

Come learn the basics of pottery on the wheel from a second-generation potter who makes his living through the production and sale of utilitarian ware. With patience and humor, you can master the steps for the creation of bowls, plates, and mugs. For those with basic throwing skills, try pitchers, jars, jugs – maybe add whimsical faces to some of these creations. Ware will be bisque-fired and possibly glaze-fired as time allows, and we’ll plan a raku firing for Friday. Beginning to intermediate students welcome.

Build Your Own Raku Kiln with Harry & Julie Hearne

April 8-10, 2016 (Weekend)

Enhance your pottery by building your own ceramic-fiber raku kiln, 24 inches high by 22 inches wide. The really fun part will be learning to glaze and fire pots in your new kiln. (Bring 10-12 bisque-fired pots.) Leave with the kiln, burner and regulator system, hours of firing experience, and some finished pots. Recommended for practicing potters. Note: Additional materials fee is estimated at $340.

The Art of Throwing and Raku Firing with Harry & Julie Hearne

April 10-16, 2016

Develop and improve your throwing skills to make the clay pots of your dreams. Bring your throwing questions, problems, and hopes to these dynamic instructors. Our exploration includes the mystery of centering, the myths of trimming, and the magic of throwing larger forms. Adventurous potters may try combining thrown forms and building totems. Work will be finished in electric and raku kilns. Open to all levels.