Students Learn Raku Pottery Technique During Mobile Workshop
Students Learn Raku Pottery Technique During Mobile Workshop

Ceramic artist Brett Thomas spent a day on campus teaching Upper School students about the decorative Raku pottery technique. Thomas's workshop includes firing student-made pieces in his two portable kilns.

"Raku is dervived from the Japanese expression meaning enjoyment or happiness," explained Upper School art teacher Hilary Hutchinson. "We were all happily enjoying ourselves on Saturday!"

"I love pottery and just creating art in general," shared Alex Peyton '18. "Having an amount of time larger than the school periods was an amazing opportunity I had to take advantage of."

Raku pieces are given a regular bisque firing before being glazed and then fired in a Raku kiln. "When the pots reach temperature, students pick up the hot pieces with blacksmith tongs and place the pottery in metal trash cans filled with shredded newspapers," explained Hutchinson. "The papers ignites as the hot pots hit the paper. The smoke of the fire enters the cracks of the glaze. After each piece reduces and begins to cool, the gorgeous glazes appear."

"I really enjoyed the Raku workshop because it required a team effort and everyone was determined to make their pieces the best possible," said Izzy Lee '21.

"We had to create a few pieces beforehand, either hand-built or on the wheel, and they were fired the day before the workshop," explained Kate Beinkampen '19. "During the workshop, we were able to choose from a few colors and glaze our pieces. After they were glazed, we fired them in a kiln outside for about 30 minutes."

"The energy of the group was incredible. It was a great opportunity for the faculty to sit side-by-side working with our students," said Ms. Hutchinson. "To watch the students running back and forth from the glazing area to the kilns outside and to hear their cheers as the kiln lids were removed was a joy to see."

The workshop took place in the Sculpture Garden on Saturday, September 30. Students' works are on display as part of a pop-up exhibit in the Crawford Campus Gallery. "I am excited to see everyone's pieces on display!" said Kate.