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Raku firing at Greater Latrobe Senior High School

In May of 2014, we were asked to do a 'Raku Residency' at Greater Latrobe Senior High School. That entailed demostrating throwing pots for Raku firing, and two weeks later returning to demostrate the firing and reduction process. Some of the students helped in this process.
Since we were to fire over 100 student pots in three days, I asked my friend, Bob Bonnet, a local potter to help in performing the residency. Students not only were shown how the firing process works, but were actualled allowed to help.

Below, you will find a 10 minute video that was updated for the 2015 event. To download a higher quality video (200 meg file) click on the link

(The 2014 version of this video can seen by clicking on Raku Process - 2014.)

Student Putting Hot pot in reduction can
Student putting hot pot in reduction can
removing ots from can
Amy Balko, the teacher, and student removing pots from the kiln.
removing ots from can
Bob Bonnet and Fred Wilbur demostrates how to put hot pot into the reduction can.

Groundhog day 2015

Starting Friday afternoon, Jan 30 and continuing on through Groundhog's day, Monday, Feb 2, we will be selling pottery made exclusively for Groundhogs day at 110 East Mahoning Street, Punxsutawney, PA (it is just two doors west of the Chamber of Commerce.)

One of the things we make are whisky sippers. Below are the steps it takes to make them. The goal was to make 100 of them and I started just after New Years day.

I throw the whisky sippers off the hump (video below).

I can throw about 10 an hour before I have to take a break. Below is a time lapse video of throwing off the hump:


Once they are thrown, they then have to sit to dry to a 'leather hard' state so we can trim the foot on them.


The photo on the left shows them turned upside down with the bottom up. Note how rough the bottom is. This is because of they way they are removed from the hump.

The ones in the far background are still upright.


The white ones are made from porclaine, the darker ones are made from white stoneware.


Depending on the conditions of the room, it may take a day to dry enough to be ready to trim.









The trimming is done by putting them upside down on a hump of clay. The video below is a time lapse photo of triming them, signing the bottom, and impressing a groundhog footprint in the side with a stamp.



sippers trimmed







It takes about 3 - 5 minutes to trim, sign and stamp each sipper






Once they are timmed, they need to sit and dry completely before they can bisqued fired.

sippers drying


The photo on the left shows a batch of them on drying, The top shelve they are turned upside down so the feet can dry faster, the lower shelve they have already dried and are sitting upright.

In the background, on the top shelf, there is a piece on a bat that was just thrown and will become a groundhog bank. You will see this piece finished below.

It may take a day or two of drying before they can bisqued fired. We bisque in an electric kiln to cone 06 (1830 degrees F). Bisque firing turns the clay into stone.

Once the pieces are bisque fired, they are ready to glaze. Before we dip them into the glaze bucket, we wax the bottom foot, so the glaze does not stick to the foot and we paint a black glaze in the footprint and wipe off the surface. This will allow the footprint to show up better once the external glaze is fired.








Below is a time lapse video of waxing the feet of a batch.




sippers glazed



Once they are prep'ed, we dip them into the glaze bucket.

Once batch was fired in the gas kiln in a reduction environment to cone 10 (2380 degrees F).

Another batch was fired in an electrical kiln an oxidation environment to cone 6 (2232 degrees F).

We also made little bowls and some cheese platters.







sippers and magnets




The electric fired pieces come out more colerful than gas fired ones.

The long pieces in the middle of this picture are refrigrator magnets. Each has a groundhog footprint impressed on them.







groundhog bank


The groundhog bank and the left was a prototype.

The slot for coines to be inserted is just behind the groundhog's neck. The bottom has a plug to remove the money when needed.

It came out so good, we will be taking him to the sale this weekend.

He is one of a kind.









Below are pictures from the Groundhog day in Feb, 2011:   Go to Making Groundhog pots to see them, or click here for 2011 photos.

Inside the Studio

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