Sunday, June 5, 2011

Oh Dear

While noodling around online, searching for images to inspire my students for our upcoming raku firing, I've made a disturbing discovery: I don't really like raku.

Wow, that's harsh! That can't be right. I can't dismiss an entire firing method! I'd never say "I don't like electric firing" or "I don't like wood firing," even though I have seen a great lot of ugly pots come out of both sorts of kilns. Hell, I've made a lot of ugly pots in both electric and wood kilns. So why so down on raku, all of a sudden?

I guess because, as I search the vast image library of the internet, I see a sameness in the work; it's much of a muchness, and images that make me shout "Wow!"....well, I just didn't find any this morning. Copper lustre is so aggressive, it seems to kill subtlety of form...I don't know. Also, it's hard to appreciate pots in bad photos, of which there are many, many ("Delah" as Roland of Gilead would say); far more than if you do a google image search for, say, anagama-fired pots.

I do think raku is an important experience for students to have, as, at Portland Pottery, it is the only direct access they have to the firing process at all. Oh, they can see the kilns and peek in the spy holes; but mostly they put pots on a rack, and the kiln fairy comes and takes them away; and they come back changed. Raku subverts all that "...then a miracle happens" mystery by showing people, in fast forward, exactly what transpirees when their work is fired. And it's fun and dramatic-- oooooo! fire! -- and captures the imagination wonderfully.
So I'm not giving up, Here I go winding up my google-fu again, to come up with raku pieces that make me drool. Here are a few:

Jutta Golas:

2 from Joanne Bedient:

Karen Case:

Nathan Webb:

Actually, go see Joanne Bedient. She deserves more than 2 images here.

Okay, now I'm feeling more excited about this firing!

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