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  • Writer's pictureCreative West End

Raku on the Beach

By Chris Price

At 12 noon (19th December) Rae Tribbick and Andrew Morris set up a Raku furnace on the beach near the Battery and brought out the pots we’d created at the West End Christmas Market a couple of weeks earlier. The pots had been biscuit fired (baked) and glazed ready for Raku firing. A little while later folks turned up to watch their pots being fired and see the results.

This was a project sponsored by Creative West End to coincide with the Christmas market and be delivered by Rae and Andrew (Ram Ceramics).

One of the glazes contains copper oxide. Copper oxide is the copper equivalent of rust and you will know that when copper is exposed to the elements it turns green just as iron turns red. This process is known as oxidation and the opposite effect (converting the oxide to metal) is known as reduction (taking the oxygen out).

In Raku the pot is fired to a high temperature and then placed in a container with a combustible material like sawdust. As the sawdust burns it takes the oxygen out of the glaze and reduces the copper oxide leaving the glaze copper coloured. The process is unpredictable so it’s exciting to see how the glazing turns out. It’s important that the container is sealed so that the oxygen in the glaze is what’s burning the sawdust. This was achieved using small upturned buckets with beach sand forming the seal.

This event went on till around 5pm and being December the firing process became more visible and exciting as the sun began to set. The results varied and as I cleaned my pot with a wire brush the copper came off but for others the reddish metallic finish was permanent and looked spectacular. They ranged from plain pots to candle holders and strange animals. We even had someone bring along a clay hedgehog that had been biscuit fired some years before. This firing too would be unpredictable but came out beautifully.

I was there for the whole afternoon and enjoyed every minute of it. Raku firing on the beach at dusk with friends and a cup of tea was as wonderful as it sounds. I’ve put together a 5 minute video of the event comprising stills and video clips and added a soundtrack which is a song I wrote a while back. You can see it here:

I’ve also uploaded a version without the soundtrack here:

All creative content in this blog by Chris - including photography, filmaking & editing, music, writing and a self portrait at 29.

Blog by Chris Price

Chris is a singer songwriter and finds inspiration from the ever changing Morecambe Bay. He also enjoys sketching the rocks and other features on the Prom. Links to his original music, sketches and articles can be found on his website Spoonfulofdreams*.

* a play on Mary Poppins’ Spoonful of Sugar - a spoonful of dreams helps reality go down

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