aww... this was my favorite pendant of my first Raku firing, and I broke it. I'll glue it together and keep it for myself. Look at that RED! woo hoo!
I want to tell you a little bit about the Raku process as I am practicing it. First of all, Raku is an old Japanese technique that is very different from the newer Western technique that we call Raku today. You can read about both Raku techniques in detail on Wikipedia.
My Raku technique involves taking my little electric kiln outdoors and setting it up for a cone 06-04 glaze firing (about 1800 degrees or so). I set the kiln to start firing and I stick around for a couple of hours to watch the progress. When I am able to look in the kiln with my safety welders goggles and see that the glaze is melting, I turn the kiln off and unplug it. With someone's help opening the kiln, I use a pair of tongs to remove the shelf or furniture that contains a row of beads and plunge it into a bucket of sawdust. The bright orange heat of the furniture and pendants makes the sawdust go up in flames! After a little bit of flaming, I put a lid on the bucket and let it smoke. If there are more beads in the kiln, I continue the process until I am done, and then I wait for the smoke to clear and things to cool off to sift through the burnt sawdust to find my treasures.
As you can see, Raku is very dramatic! It involves glowing hot kilns, fire, and smoke! So it is a lot of fun to do... but the real reason is the results of this firing on the glazes. Western Raku uses glazes that produce many wonderful, random, and unexpected results! The smoke and oxygen deprivation makes many of the glazes, particularly ones that contain lots of heavy metals like copper, to have oilslick and metallic rainbow effects. Also popular are dry crazed surfaces, crackles, and other spectacular metal mimicking effects. I think these surfaces are perfect for the one-of-a-kind industrial based designs that have interested me lately, don't you? If you have any questions about Raku, please ask them in the comments and I will try to answer or find the answer.
This is my first batch of Raku pendants, which will be available in my Etsy shop.