CHENNAI: Good things come to those who wait is the norm when it comes to glazing pottery. After intricately shaping mud to form a pot, glazing material is applied, and loaded into the kiln the day before the firing. The door is then sealed and the temperature is slowly raised. When the glaze melts and fuses with the pots, the firing is stopped, and the firebox and kiln are allowed to cool very slowly over the next 24 hours or more. Only after the temperature is less than 100°C, the glazed pot is taken out. Long process, indeed!
But there are some types of pottery which are less time-consuming. One of them is Raku, a Japanese technique of glazing and firing the pots. “Raku is immediate and very exciting, especially for anyone experiencing glazed pottery for the first time,” explains Kaveri Bharath, a connoisseur of pottery over the past 20 years, who has been conducting pottery workshops and classes in her roof-top studio and also at various institutions in Chennai. Though she specialises in high temperature-woodfired-glazed ceramics, she has attended and conducted several Raku workshops over the years.
In Raku, she says, the glazes are formulated to melt at lower temperatures than other glazes. When it begins to melt, the red-hot pot is removed from the kiln using tongs and immediately dunked in cold water. Sometimes, it is first dipped into a container with sawdust to ‘reduce’ the glaze, before dunking in water. The harsh cooling process gives unpredictable results and intense colour, which is a major attraction toward Raku pottery.
“There are very few people who have specialised in Raku ware. Manisha Bhattacharya from Delhi was one of the few in the country who did. My idea to do this workshop is as a way to remember her,” says Kaveri, who will be conducting a Raku workshop in the city the coming week.
Raku cannot be made in a home or in a kitchen as a hobby; it requires a safe, well ventilated space, a small basic kiln, fuel, and safety equipment.
Setting up a work space for this form of pottery, after terracotta, is really easy. She is looking forward to meeting the participants of her workshop.
The workshop will introduce the basics of hand building pieces suitable for Raku; each participant will make a variety from which they will choose their favourites to be biscuit fired. They will also learn about mixing and applying glazes to their pots. The last day will be the actual Raku firing.
The workshop will be held from May 29 to June 4 at Pothole at The Farm. For details, mail firstname.lastname@example.org