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Elephant Platter/Wall Hanging

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New Raku

A couple of weeks ago, before it got to 106 degrees in Atlanta I did a raku firing with a few other brave souls at Mudfire.  This was an experimental firing for me, sometimes they all seem like an experiment.  For this firing I had three pots that I made using High Water's Phoenix Clay, this is the clay body that I normally use for raku and for cookware because it's designed to withstand thermal shock.  The experiment was with the surface.  After taking the workshop with Jenny Mendes I decided to have some fun with the terra sigilata and try to do some interesting colors for the background of the horse carving.  I really liked the way these pieces came out.

I also tried using High Water's Stans Red, it's an earthenware clay that we used in the workshop.  It's rated for ^02 - ^06 so I thought that the pieces might be able to hold water even with the low temperature of the Raku firing.  The problem is that the clay has very little grog which I thought might not handle the thermal shock too well.  I was right, all three pieces cracked a lot.  It could be because they weren't thrown very well.  I didn't find the Stans Red to be very fun to throw, it didn't seem to be as plastic as the clay bodies that I'm used to using.  I know Ron Philbeck uses Stans so it's possible to throw nice pots with it, I might just need more practice.

I loved the way these looked, the red clay is pretty and I enjoyed the carving, both doing it into a non-groggy clay and the way the caving looked unfilled.  I normally inlay a black slip into the carving on the white pots.  Now I'm thinking about inlaying other colored slips into my carvings.

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  1. I used phoenix for awhile, I like throwing with it, but much prefer raku clay for hand building. I have also used stan's red and agree with you, I found it weird to throw. I liked throwing lyman red but I had a lot of pop outs with it, and got tired of all of the ruined pots. I would love to go back to using red clay, but my white raku clay is so much cleaner :)
    You can get a beautiful black surface if you apply white terra sig, burnish really well, and raku fire, get a really good reduction, great black shiny surface!

    1. Hi Tracey, I was thinking about lyman red but now I think I may pass. You're right about the nice getting the nice black that way, of course horse hair decorating doesn't lend itself to getting great reduction so I don't mess with that.

  2. Other colors would be nice, at what hardness do you apply the inlay and how do you keep it from staining the whole surface. When I was doing my stained tiles if I got any black out of the lines, it always showed up as a smudge after firing even if I wiped it off.

  3. Linda, it's a bit difficult to see in this photo but this pot actually has a few colors on it. It may be a bit cumbersome to post the process here in the comments so I'll write an article about it. Thanks for the question.

  4. I just caught up on my Ceramic Arts Daily reading and saw this by Lorna Meaden re mishima - I think I'll give it a try and see

    To create very fine lines, I use the sharpest knife I can find-a disposable scalpel-to draw on leather-hard pots. Then I fill in the etched lines with black slip, allow it to become leather hard, and scrape it off with a metal rib.

    1. This isn't exactly how I do mine, I'll do one with pictures taken during the process and post after I return from visiting my parents. Look for it in a week or so.
      I am interested in seeing how your pieces look using this process.


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