How to Make a Raku Vase
Use double firing and stenciling techniques to create the distinctive raku look.
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white stoneware clay
liquid wax resist
blue painter's tape
picture of whales
sheet of thick clear plastic
white crackle and copper blue raku glaze
paintbrushes of various sizes
small gas kiln
metal trash can with lid
heavy-duty leather gloves
hat (baseball cap)
1. Cut off about 5 pounds of clay about the size of a small melon.
2. Shape the clay into a ball by smacking and pounding it with your hands.
3. Attach the bat to the potter's wheel and put the ball of clay in the center of the bat.
5. With your thumb, find the center and gently push down, making a hole in the middle and stopping about ¼-inch from the bat.
6. With a sponge, squeeze water over the sides to lubricate the clay.
7. Form the bottom of the pot by pulling your fingers inside at the bottom of the hole.
8. With one hand inside and one hand directly opposite it on the outside of the hole in the clay, pinch your fingers together and pull up. Repeat this until the walls of your pot are about ¼-inch thick.
9. Compact the rim by placing a finger on the inside of the rim and your thumb on the outside and gently pushing down with your index finger of your other hand.
11. Let it dry overnight.
12. Cut your pot off the bat and turn it upside down on a clean bat on the wheel.
14. Using a trim tool, carefully trim off the excess clay. Smooth the trimmed surface.
15. Let dry for three to four days.
16. When the pot is completely dry, place it in an electric or gas kiln and very slowly raise the temperature of the kiln until it reaches 1,860 degrees Fahrenheit, about 12 hours. Let cool for 24 hours.
18. Place the pot on a banding wheel and draw a circle on the bottom of the pot with a pencil. Place a piece of blue painter's tape at that line to indicate where the glaze will stop.
19. Draw the killer-whale images on the base with a pencil and the stencil.
20. Paint on the white spots of the whale with white glaze and a small paintbrush.
22. Mask off the top and inside of the vase with blue tape and newspaper.
24. Paint white raku glaze on the inside of the vase with a medium-size paintbrush.
25. Put the vase in a small gas kiln outdoors and fire it to 1,900 degrees Fahrenheit for about an hour.
26. Set a metal trash can and lid near the kiln and put about four cups of sawdust and a sheet of newspaper in the trash can.
27. Wearing heavy-duty leather gloves, welding goggles, a hat and arm and leg coverings to protect yourself from the heat, shut off the kiln, open it and remove the hot vase with tongs and quickly place it in the trash can. Immediately replace the lid.
28. Wait about 30 seconds, open the can, throw in a half-sheet of newspaper and quickly replace the lid.
29. Let cool for about 1 hour.
Make a contemporary version of the Nageire vase, a tall, wide-mouthed bud vase that originated from Japan.