Raku. What exactly is it?

As used here in the West, raku ceramics generally applies to a type of firing process where a piece of pottery is pulled from the kiln when it is red hot. In addition, often its final coloration is metallic & iridescent or various kinds of ‘crackle’ glazes.

Most people have heard the term “ceramics” before.  After talking with literally thousands of people at Art Shows around the country for years, I came to discover that there is a need to offer an expanded explanation of the term.

I refer to myself as a “Ceramic Artist” and I would frequently be asked “Where do you purchase your molds?”.

I do not use the molds they were referring to as my art pieces are all hand formed!! What this question was more accurately referring to is specifically described as “Slip Cast Ceramics” where a creamy consistency of clay is poured into a mold-usually commercially purchased- to replicate a certain item.

The term “CERAMICS” is the large umbrella term under which a wide variety of specific kinds of ceramic applications are defined. For those of us involved in creating items made of clay, CERAMICS=ALL THINGS CLAY, under which are to be found: stoneware, earthenware, porcelain, etc. So in summary, raku ceramics generally applies to describe an item made in clay and fired by the raku process.

For more detail, Wikipedia offers very precise information on both the definition and origin of the term “ceramics”.

So, when I describe myself as a “Ceramic Artist” specializing in the Raku firing process, it means I am using clay as my medium for creating art objects which are completed using the Raku process!