Raku Firing at Bishop’s Stortford College

30 Mar 2015

Bishop’s Stortford College’s artists have been experimenting with Raku firing to create unique pieces of pottery.

Bishop’s Stortford College’s artists have been experimenting with Raku firing. Built by the College’s Artist in Residence, Chris Sutherland, pupils were given the opportunity to try a different, unique method of firing their work.

Raku is a more complex process than conventional firing that involves removing pots from the kiln at 1000 degrees and placing them in bins full of combustible materials that give unique and unpredictable qualities to the work. By placing the pots in a reduction atmosphere that is starved of oxygen, the flames draw oxygen out of the copper oxide in the glaze mixture to give a beautiful range of colours and effects, these are then enhanced by the smoke from the combustible materials post firing. It was built on the green outside the Walter Strachan Art Centre on Campus.

The College has some highly talented pupils, who have created wonderful ceramics; building this Raku kiln is part of the Art Department’s aim to help them realise their ambitions in their work, to support and encourage pupils to push their boundaries and to try something new and different. Raku firing is usually a technique only offered by universities, so this was a fantastic opportunity for pupils to learn and be inspired by new methods. The flames and smoke created plenty of intrigue around the kiln as this technique, whilst being particularly hot, allows for firings to take less than an hour.

Work from the Upper Fifth, Lower Sixth and Upper Sixth were fired with some beautiful results from crackled blacks and whites to intense coppers and almost metallic looking glazes.