All is well that ends well...Happy Holidays!The Holiday Spirits are with you!

  1. Objectives and Purpose for the Web site.
  2. Create a web site that teaches the RAKU process, meaning, and history. References will be given for further studies, information, and supplies. By following the recipes, readings, and directions within the web site, the following objectives will be met.
    • Understand the meaning behind RAKU and form personal meanings and philosophies about the process.

    • Know how to buy and or make the clay to use in the RAKU process.

    • Learn basic clay forming methods such as pinching and slab work to form a clay shape that can withstand the firing process.

    • Know how to buy and or make a glaze and how to apply it on the clay object prior to the firing process.

    • Know how to build a simple RAKU kiln and or buy or find one to use in the RAKU process.

    • Know how to safely fire the glazed object, remove it from the fire while molten hot and place it into a reduction atmosphere.

    • Know what a reduction atmosphere means and why it is used, as well as other terms related to this subject through a simple glossary of terms.

    • Will appreciate, and enjoy the RAKU Process, and what they have created.

  3. The Target Audience
  4. Persons interested in Fine and Fire Arts will be attracted to this sight. They will be novices to the art of ceramics or interested fellow artisans. This may also attract philosophical types due to the method and the subject matter of the presentation. The age and cultural limitations are set by the persons visiting this site and of course by the language it is written in, English.

  5. Novel Content of the Web Site
  6. The RAKU Process, A Personal View. Within the life cycle, from dust to dust, a spirit is conceived, given birth, nurtured and shaped. The ultimate goal is for that spirit is to take its own form, stand alone, and live on eternally, aiding the lost and living into a higher more perfect life form. This form may take on qualities of genius, pure passion, and or rage, to name only a few. The character and strength is the spirit found within the form. The character and strength of the spirit and form is determined by the quality of the materials used in the forming process, the methods used to shape the form, and the magnitude of effort put forth by its creator. A clay object, for instance, is the quality of its content and becomes the shape that it is given by its creator. Its strength and character is changed and solidified by the firing temperature as well as the rate of firing and the air composition. Lack of content, effort, and firing control can result in a weak or nonexistent form without a purpose, or structure, and lacks most important of all, spirit.

    Sometimes in life as in with the forming of a clay object, things do not always go as planned. So long as the effort put forth, and the intent and heart are in the right place, the shape, life, or form brought forth always has an important place in the scheme of things. This may be helpful advice for almost any worthwhile endeavor.

    First you will choose a clay-body to create the form, then the object will be dried and glazed. NOTE:In this RAKU project non-prefired/ greenware will be glazed. The final step is to place the dried and glazed clay object into a kiln, heat it very slowly to drive out the ambient moisture, thickness of the object dictates the warm fire drying time. Finally the object(s) are heated until molten hot. The form is then removed from the kiln still glowing, placed into a nest of leaves, paper, and or other dry solid combustibles and then sealed off from the air. A galvenized garbage can is a great place to build a *reduction nest. When the object(s) are cool enough to pull from the ashes (no longer glowing or burning), doused with water to further cool and reveal a final form in which one can discern a character or spirit.

    The EVALUATION is a personal reflection on what stands before you, as to what kind of character, strength, and spirit the final clay object holds.

    This is how I understand and explain the meaning behind RAKU and the process.

    The Author and Family

    The Author, JayDee Wilkins and Family. Picture is linked to JDW Designs Web Site.

    An ancient Japanese method of clay (made from dust like materials and water) shaping, glazing and firing. I love relating the rich symbolic content of the RAKU process with life. To me the firing is the birth and solidification of the spirit ready to be released from the burdens of life, as we know it.Life after death, so to speak. The process and the final form take on a character from which emanates a spirit in the form of images that can be strong, meek, wild, subdued and so on. The images that come forth whether they are deemed good or bad, are not to be judged here only analyzed for it's lesson or place in life as you see it now. Just appreciate, respect and nurture the process and behold the form and the spirit that emerges from the reduction fire dust.
    Raku started as an integral part of the Japanese tea ceremony. The tea ceremony in its final form was conceived by Sen-no Rikyu (1521-1591 A.D.), involving tranquility, conducive to contemplation, restricted conversation, and a chosen setting with special utensils. The Raku tea bowls were the most highly prized accouterment. Chojiro was the first man to make raku although the family name Raku, signifying "pleasure," "enjoyment," or "ease," was given by Hideyoshi (1536-1598, one of the three military rulers to bring an end to the civil wars in Japan) to Chojiro's successor, Jokei. Hideyoshi patronized the tea master Sen-no Rikyu who commissioned Chojiro to make a tea bowl for the tea ceremony. This is when the practice of low fired earthenware came into the Japanese ceramic history. Chojiro had a Korean father and a Japanese mother, both potters. It is thought by some that his Korean father influenced the simple, rough qualities in Chojiro's tea bowls, the quality that Sen-no Rikyu cherished.
    The migration of raku to the western culture was started by Bernard Leach who became intimately involved with raku. He apprenticed with Ogata Kenzan VI and was chosen by his master to succeed him and continue the name as Kenzan VII. This adoption of a westerner into the Japanese family of potters was an unprecedented compliment. The Potter's Book, authored by Leach and published in 1940, provided the first indirect but reliable link between the Western public and the original Raku family pottery methods.
    Warren Gilbertson, provides us with another link to the history of raku as the first American to study raku. Due to his untimely death his contributions to American ceramics was not as significant as it would have been had he lived as long as Paul Soldner(a great American ceramic artist). The first record of raku officially introduced to the American public is by Gilbertson, first in a one man show at the Chicago Art Institute 58 years ago to the day(today being 12/5/99) and then again in an article published by him (1941) in the Bulletin of the American Ceramic Society, "Making of Raku Ware and its Value in the Teaching of Beginner's Pottery in America".
    Paul Soldners' variation on reduction firing by submerging the molten pots into a gutter full of pepper tree leaves during a demo set up at Scripps College (1960), began the new beginning of "serendipitous" and happening " in a raku way," pottery. (Tyler,C.1944, Raku 1975).

  7. Clay, Glaze, Kiln, and Firing Specifications
  8. This content will have recipes, information, pictures, and activities described in safe detail.

  9. Web site uses
  10. This web site can be used as a guide for a RAKU project. The sight will also contain links to other sites that may be of interest to persons viewing and using this Web Site. The information and activities will be presented in an entertaining and educational fashion.The format will be easy to follow and aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Now go back and see if we have met our objectives.


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