May 25, 2010

Headaches and Experiments in Raku

So yesterday afternoon a headache started to settle into my brain.  I figured I was just hungry (even though I had eaten enough good things all day) so I worked through and loaded the third Raku kiln.  In retrospect, I should have listened to my body, had dinner and lots of water and gone to sleep, but I am stubborn.  I finished the Raku, but I was lazy and sloppy about it, and the headache put me out of commission for the rest of the night.  After about 14 hours in bed, I am feeling much better and headache free.

Anyway, I am not going to call yesterday's firing a failure.  In fact, there were several interesting and sell-able pieces to come out of it.  It did contain mostly old discontinued stock that I was just playing with, so no real loss.  I learned what happens when I cut corners and get lazy though... some pretty un-spectacular pieces.  I was in such a hurry to get done and on with my dinner and nap, I stopped the kiln a little early, so some glazes didn't get to temperature.  But, these were not Raku glazes, they were standard glazes, so that gives me some good info.  I think Raku glazes have a pretty wide firing range because many people fire differently.  Also, I tried a new firing method, placing a stoneware bowl filled with pendants and buttons on top, and pulling the whole bowl out with tongs.  Hanging in the center of the bowl from heavy high temp wires were the hearts shown above.  These were my first fully glazed pieces!  I had some trouble with the hearts sticking together after they were in the sawdust, so I will have to be more careful next time.  It also took me a long time to get the bowl in, and I put the other beads in right after, not allowing for them to smoke between placing them in the sawdust.  Again, this was my laziness to blame.  I didn't have fresh sawdust or enough to sprinkle onto the beads either.  So I learned how important that is for good Raku.

I learned a lot from this firing and got some good pieces from it.  At least I learned these things on an experimental kiln, and not one full of my brand new work!  I spent yesterday morning making new houses and square pairs specifically for Raku, so I am looking forward to doing a lot more next week after the wedding!
Melanie is an artist, blogger, writer, and ceramic beadmaker at Earthenwood Studio. Her beads and components can be found at her Etsy shop and her jewelry can be found in her Etsy Galleria. To comment on this post, visit the original post at the Earthenwood Studio Chronicles Blog.


  1. They look like they turned out fine to me. Then again, I'm not much of an expert in Raku.

  2. Melanie - your pieces turned out beautifully despite the headache. I think it is the way of artists to work on through the headaches, because the desire to finish the artwork always wins out over the pain (lol). I'm glad you are feeling better!

    :-) Molly