Pottery West Cancer Society Benefit

Closing the kiln... to be opened Saturday
Closing the kiln... to be opened Saturday
Photo by Michael H. Dickman

It’s the time of the year when people start shopping for presents. On Saturday, November 21, Pottery West will have an art show, featuring pottery and ceramic art for sale. That’s no coincidence. However, not only can you buy some great ceramic pieces, it’s also a benefit for the American Cancer Society. Tickets are $25 in advance and $30 at the door, and are good all day from 9AM to 9PM. The event includes door prizes, a wine tasting, kiln openings, pottery demos, and a Raku firing where you can buy bisqued pieces and watch them being fired right there in a Raku kiln.

Pottery West is one of the places in Las Vegas where you can learn the art of ceramics and throwing clay. If you’re interested in ceramics but have never seen a Raku firing, you’re in for a treat. Originating in Japan as a way to obtain fired ware quickly, the process has been adapted by Western potters into a spectacular art form. Bisque ware is glazed and then placed in a small gas kiln, where it is fired to about 1000 degrees, and while still red-hot, the kiln is opened and the pieces are removed.

The thermal shock that the pottery receives may result in some pieces cracking, and the tongs used to remove the pieces can leave marks on the glaze. Slight imperfections are part of the process and help give each piece its own unique character.

After the pieces are removed from the red-hot kiln, they are placed in a container with burnable material such as newspaper or sawdust. This produces smoke and removes the oxygen from the container. The combination of smoke and reducing atmosphere turns unglazed portions of the clay black, and may produce vivid colors on glazed portions. Here’s a link to more information about this exciting technique.

Raku firings are unpredictable and fascinating. The event Saturday at Pottery West is a great opportunity to see the studio with the artists in action, buy presents, watch Raku firings, and participate in the fun, all for a good cause.


2 responses on “Pottery West Cancer Society Benefit

  1. The thing I thought of the first time I saw the photo of the vases and other pottery being rolled into that kiln was…. how often does the stuff on those precarious-looking shelves go crashing down? Seems slightly insane to me.


  2. They look precarious, but the shelves are heavy and assuming they are stacked correctly, it would take a collision with something substantial to dislodge anything. Another problem is that the inside gets very hot and everything expands, so you have to leave extra room at the top. Amy told me on Wednesday that the gas kiln holds over 200 pieces of pottery (depending on the average size, of course).

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