raku + pit firing workshop

interior of kiln through spy-hole

flame through spy-hole

Raku and pit-fired pottery has become tremendously popular. The wide range of glazing and firing methods, and the surprises that lurk in every firing, intrigue potters everywhere.

This workshop can be held over one or two days.

One-day workshop

For a one-day workshop participants are required to bring along their own bisque-fired pots – size limit of 40 cm high x 20 cm x 20 cm.
Some bisqued pots will be available for sale for those who do not have their own.

Two-day workshop

During a two-day workshop, pots are made one day and fired on a second day.

Day 1 – Pots are made and decorated with sgraffito and/or slips. Bisque firing is performed overnight (after drying pots thoroughly). Pots made using a clay with added grog will withstand the stresses of raku and pit-firing the best, although I have used porcelain clay with some success.

Day 2 – Bisque kiln is unloaded and the firing commences.

Raku firing

The bisqued pots will be glazed with tried and true, lead-free, non-toxic glazes. Some experimental glazes will be used, promising surprises for everyone including myself. The evenness of glaze application is not important and traditionally some areas, particularly near the base, are left unglazed.

Glazed pots are then placed into an already hot kiln and the temperature raised until glaze melt is determined, usually visually. The still glowing pots are then removed from the kiln (with care) and various reduction techniques are used to create the finish on the glaze.

Firing continues throughout the day until all pots are completed. Cooled and finished pots are then ready to take home. Arrangements will be made to collect/deliver pit-fired pots. The total number of pots fired will depend on numbers and time available.

sculptural raku piece

sculptural raku piece used in fish tank

close-up of raku lustre

close-up of raku lustre

Pit firing

For ease of working, a brick above-ground ‘pit’ is built. This then becomes a permanent place to pit-fire pots. There is no filling in after the firing and no danger of stepping into the ‘pit’.

Pots for pit-firing are prepared and placed into the pit. Small pieces of timber, which have been gathered from the paddock, are layered over the pots. Larger pieces of timber are then added until the pit is full.

A small fire is started on top of the pit and stoking (with the larger timber) is continued for approximately 4 to 5 hours – until a good layer of hot coals is obtained.  The kiln is then stacked full of timber again and a corrigated-iron ‘lid’ placed on top. The lid is weighed down with bricks and the fire is left to burn away slowly.

pot in pit fire

pot in pit fire

‘pit’ kiln after corrigated-iron ‘lid’ added

‘pit’ kiln after corrigated-iron ‘lid’ added

No glazes are used for pit firing, but slips and/or oxides may be applied to the pots. Oxides are also sprinkled around the pots these are volatilised during the firing and will permeate the clay leaving subtle coloured marks. Below are two examples after cleaning.

pit-fired pot

pit-fired pot with sgraffito and oxide flashing from firing – the smoky area is where the pot was lying and protected from the flames

pit-fired pot

pit-fired pot with sgraffito and oxide decoration

workshop details

Duration 1 or 2 days
Date to be announced
Participants minimum 4, maximum 8
Requirements During firings, you must wear

  • non-synthetic clothing – long-sleeved shirt and long trousers (not skirts or shorts)
  • fully enclosed shoes/boots – not high heels, sandals, thongs or slip-ons.

A detailed set of notes will be provided to each participant during the workshop. These will explain the aims, advantages and techniques.

Costs 1 day workshop – $95 per person
2 day workshop – $200 per person plus clay
Light lunch, morning and afternoon tea will be provided (included in the cost).
Payment A $50 non-refundable deposit is required to book your place at the workshop.
Balance is to be paid one week prior to workshop commencement.
Direct deposit banking details will be supplied when booking.
Location all workshops are held at ‘grakay’
17 Corbett Lane
Conondale Qld 4552.
We are located about 17 km south-west of Maleny (see location map for details).
Bookings Please email workshops@grakay.com for all inquiries & bookings.

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