Students in Delores Coan's ceramics classes recently experienced an alternate approach to firing their pieces: the ancient art of raku. The word, raku, a process developed in Japan in the 16th century, means enjoyment. Long tongs are used for handling the pots shown in the photographs. The firing takes up to an hour. When the glazes have melted the pots are removed, then replaced by another batch to be fired. The process gives the potter little control of colorful expression. The students subject the pot and its glaze to oxidation and reduction atmospheres. The openness of the clay body and the soft nature of the glaze enable extremely subtle variations of color.
Today, potters extend the word "enjoyment" to cover the firing process. For a successful outcome, the student must be totally involved with the process; the continuity of development from start to finish occurs in the distinctive expressions of each pot through that process.