Raku is a low-fire method that originated in Japan in connection with the tea ceremony.  In the 1950’s, Paul Soldner and other western potters began experimenting with the technique and today we produce quite a variety of raku work beyond the humble, but highly prized, Japanese tea bowl. Raku pottery is primarily decorative, the clay body is too porous to hold liquids tightly, and some glazes may not be food safe.

My raku pieces are mostly wheel-thrown and often altered or carved while the clay is still moist.  When the formed pot has completely dried, it is bisque fired to remove the chemically combined water from the clay body.  I enjoy experimenting with color beyond the usual raku range in order to achieve a pictorial expression. Glazes are brushed onto the bisqued pot, then the pot is fired in my raku kiln to about 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. Firing takes about one hour, and then the pots are removed red-hot from the kiln with tongs and immediately sealed into a post-firing reduction can with organic materials.  This causes an oxygen-poor atmosphere known as “reduction”, which causes flashing in copper glazes and also blackens the clay body. Within this palette, many variations can be achieved, as you can see from the examples below.

Enjoy!   Beverly Curtis

Click on any image to view an enlargement. If you are interested in a particular artwork, or have an idea for a special commissioned piece, I would enjoy talking to you about it.  Please go to my contact page to email or call me directly.

Two raku bottles show the variation possible with different raku glazes.

A large covered jar with spinning planets in a cuerda seca design and a pyrite handle.

A small raku vase with red neck and varigated, flashy body.

“Koi Pond” won a People’s Choice Award at the 2006 Gresham City Hall Juried Show.  The design is carved into the unfired (green) pot, bisque-fired, then glazed with mixtures of low-fire and raku glazes.

“Sun Dial’s Message” is another of my carved raku pieces, shown here in four views. The poem struck a chord with me: I found it on a sun dial in a book about gardens.  If you look closely, you will see that each stanza correlates with a season: spring, summer, autumn and winter.

“African Village”, shown here in four views, was commissioned to go with a batik wall hanging. I was able to achieve complementary images and colors by incising the design into the green pot before bisque firing.  Raku glazes were mixed with oxides and other low-fire glazes, and brushed on before raku firing.

For “Sunflowers” I used wax resist to create the design on a bisqued pot. The chrome green and yellow colors are achieved with mason stains; these glazes are not affected by post-firing reduction. The exposed clay is affected by the reduction, blackening the outlines dramatically.

“Daffodils” is a carved raku vase inspired by spring in an art deco mood.

“Flamingo Family” is about 15” tall. These images show two views of the same decorative vessel.

I am experimenting with raku jewelry.  The fine Australian porcelain I use picks up wonderful details from my hand-made molds. This is just one example of the many colors I can get using low-fire and raku glazes, mason stains and oxides.

This art deco inspired piece was carved and glazed with copper saturated raku glazes. The lusters are due to heavy post-firing reduction.

“Dogwood Blossoms” is one of my favorite themes. I have made variations in many colors, but this copper background is particularly effective and beautiful.