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.