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Gilhouse Pottery Blog Post


First Naked Raku Pot

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

I'm so thrilled with my first Naked Raku Pot, not only because it's beautiful but because it taught me some things.

What the What?!?

Naked Raku is accomplished by coating a pot in slip, which is clay that is the consistency of paste, just prior to putting it into the raku kiln. The slip dries and cracks as the pot heats up. We took the kiln to 1400° F this time. Sporting welder's gloves and a long tongs I move the pot into a small lidded metal can with newspaper and saw dust that ignites when the pot is carefully placed in. Fire! The fire is starved when the lid goes on. Inside, the fire fights for oxygen which pulls the carbon (smoke) into the clay. This gives a black to gray finish to the places where the clay was exposed, ideally the cracks, and leaves a lighter finish where the clay was protected by the remaining slip. When things cool down I brush and carefully scrap the remaining slip from the surface. After cleaning I applied Beeswax to shine up and protect the decoration.

This pot was prepared with terra sigillata before it was bisque fired, and in the spirit of experimenting, I stained the terra sig hoping to get some interesting color. Here's what it looked like just before the slip was applied.

Now For What I Learned

This pot is dark for naked raku. At some point the slip lifted while it was in the can and allowed the smoke to travel beneath the surface. Part of the slip had popped off before I took it out of the kiln and that may have been the smoke's entry point. You can see that spot where there is a black shape in the midsection.

Edit: Since writing this post I've learned that I was incorrect. The smoke came in through the slip because of my longer reduction time of 20 minutes. I'm going to try shorter reduction times.

My stained terra sig was too subtle. I wanted it to be subtle but I was too light handed. In person you can see hints of the color in the lightest places which I find very, well... sexy. I have more pots in progress and I plan to be more dramatic with the stained terra sig.

I let the slip air dry some before putting it in the kiln and I intentionally slopped it thicker in some places. The thickest place is where it popped off. Next time I will use my banding wheel to apply the slip more evenly and get it into the kiln right away.

I let the pot bobble around in the can a little and I struggled trying to set it upright which probably broke the slip. Next time I will be sure to leave a flatter surface in the middle of the can so it sits down.

Overall I'm very pleased with the first one. I haven't decided whether I'll keep it or share it. That's a decision for another day.

Thanks for reading!


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