Raku and Smoke-Fired Ceramics
I am a professional ceramicist specialising in Raku and smoke-fired vases and bowls and have been exhibiting and selling my ceramic work for over 15 years. I am mostly self-taught; a lengthy period of severe illness prevented me from attending university. However I believe this has given me the freedom to explore and experiment over the years alongside intense study in specific practical techniques.
The shapes I create are inspired by curvaceous natural formations such as shells, seedpods, flower buds and the female body. My work is also very tactile. I want to create pieces that are as beautiful to hold as they are to look at. To create the surface effects I combine smoke-firing and Raku techniques with layered oxides, clay slips and resist glazes.
The Raku process involves heating pieces up in an outdoor kiln and plunging them whilst red hot into wood shavings or sawdust. The smoke formed is absorbed into the clay creating a permanent, natural and fairly unpredictable effect. Resist glazes mask off areas, allowing the smoke to colour the naked clay through cracks that are created in the glaze during the firing. The glaze is then removed revealing the pattern left beneath.
The techniques I use have been in practice for centuries‚ although I do add my own personal touches using more modern techniques such as resist glazes, oxides and the occasional banana skin! This can create the effect of a piece that is both contemporary and primitive at the same time.