Raku & Workshops
YAY CLAY! is proud to offer the ancient Japanese firing method called Raku at the Montclair, NJ location. Come experience for yourself what hundreds of other professional potters, schools and first time Raku students have taken part in.
Raku is an ancient oriental pottery process, which started in roughly the 16th century. It is different than firing a piece in a regular kiln. This process is done outdoors, using a large gas kiln. The pieces are then heated to 1,850 degrees Fahrenheit and once that temperature is reached the kiln is lifted open and using special metal tongs the pieces are then carefully removed from the kiln.
The pottery at this stage will be molten hot state so extreme caution must be used. Pieces will then be exposed to the air for a few seconds and spritzed with warm to extenuate any crackle effects desired. Pieces will then be placed into metal containers containing combustible materials (newspaper, straw, hay, sawdust). Pieces will instantly ignite the materials in the containers and the flames will start to cause black smoke and ash to fill the container. Because of the varying direction of the flames and materials, no two pieces will ever look alike.
Seconds after being placed in the container the lids will be placed tightly on top of the containers which deprives the pieces of oxygen, causing the pottery to soak up the ash and flames into the body of pots. Pots will sit for 5 minutes during this process. After 5 minutes containers will be opened briefly for a quick fanning of the pots to re-ignite the combustible material and reintroduce oxygen and flames once more. This process is called “burping”. Once more the lids will be closed tight and then the pieces will remain in the smoldering containers for 15 minutes untouched.
After the 15 minutes of reducing is complete the lids are uncovered and the pieces carefully removed. They will still be extremely hot so tongs are still used. They can then be laid on the ground, and spray bottles full of warm water can be used to slowly bring the pots temperature down to a safe touch. The water will also act as a way to bring out the colors further and stop any further reduction of the pieces. Finally after the work is back to room temperature, pieces can then be washed with soap (comet) and a scrubbing sponge to remove any residue.
Avoid making forms that might be used as functional ware. Since Raku pieces can never be food safe it better to always make more sculptural or decorative pieces. Lustrous Raku pieces should never be kept in direct sunlight, as they will fade color over time. To help prevent this, we recommend spraying the pieces with a spray enamel coating to protect and seal in the shine. They sell this at home depot for under $10 bucks. 2-3 spray coats are recommended. This special coating is only needed for luster glazes and not white crackly glazes.
INFO ABOUT THE WORKSHOP
- Pick a date that works for both you and your group.
- 50% non-refundable deposit required to reserve the date. The remaining balance will be paid on the workshop date.
- The workshop can last anywhere between 3-5 hours. We can also choose any time of day/night that works best for . It can take roughly 1 hour for the initial firing to get from 0-1,875 degrees in the large Raku kiln. Typically within a workshop we can re-fire the kiln as many as 4-6 times to fulfill the requirements for the workshop size.
- Group sizes can be as small as 1 and as large as up to 25+ participants.
- Raku clay is recommended for best results for Raku.
- All pieces should have been bisque fired to cone 04-06 prior to Raku firings. We offer kiln rental for bisque firing if needed and arrangements should have been made well in advance if this service is needed.
- Pieces should have been glazed at least 24 hours prior to being put into the kiln. (YAY CLAY! has a large variety of unique Raku glazes that can be purchased. Again, if you require the use of our glazes, arrangements must be made well in advance to ensure proper drying times before the firings.
- Proper attire should be worn at all times on the site. (Long sleeves, long pants. Denim/flannel preferred. No open toed shoes. While we have our own personal respirators it is strongly recommended that participants bring their own for sanitary reasons.
- It is the responsibly of the participant to bring any food/snacks. Water will be provided on site. Our facility has ample free parking as well as a restroom on site.
- Understand any cancellations or date changes should be made with at least 3 weeks notice; otherwise there could be a forfeiture of the deposit.
"Just did a raku firing with Keith and it was amazing!!! I highly recommend booking him for a workshop. We were a group of 6 and each one of us had great results. Keith was knowledgable, enthusiastic, safe, and got all of us working as a team. We learned a ton and were delighted with the unique glaze effects! Looking forward to doing it again!"- Mullin Studio
"Keith is a natural educator and led our group of 6 women through an amazing raku session. Very well organized and communicative. Couldn't have asked for a better guide for all things raku. Definitely planning to book another session in the future. Thank you so much!"- Julianne Ahn
COST OF WORKSHOP
Private 1 on 1 workshop: $500
Book the entire Raku kiln for yourself and enjoy this private 1 on 1 workshop with the owner of YAY CLAY! Keith Grabowsky. The individual price for the workshop is $500 and includes up to 4 separate firings full of your work. We can fit roughly 8 pieces (the size of a coffee mug) inside the kiln for each firing.
Get the group rate: Bring some friends and save some dough!
- 1 on 1 workshop-$500
- 2-5 participants: $250 per person
- 6-9 participants - $200 per person
- 10-13 participants- $175 per person
- 15-18 participants- $150 per person
Discount pricing can be requested for any non-profit organizations, as well as educational school programs.