Raku By Schartz!
Welcome to the home page of Tony and Gretchen Schartz. We are artists that travel the
country showing our work at art shows. We are potters and we work exclusively with
Raku. Raku is an ancient Japanese glazing and firing technique where pieces are pulled
from the kiln at a high temperature.
With American raku the glaze is put on the pot and placed into the kiln. The kiln burners
are lit and the piece is brought up to temperature, about 1850 degrees. When the kiln
reaches that temperature the kiln is opened and the piece taken out. The piece is then put
into a container. Inside this container is some sort of combustible material, we usually use
shredded paper that we can pick up at the college. The moment that the hot piece touches
the paper the paper bursts into flames. After a short period to allow the flames to burn
very hot, the container is covered. The flame in search for oxygen will pull the oxygen
from the glaze and clay body. The way that the flame works on the glaze is very
uncontrollable. As such, it is possible for some glazes to produce a wide range of colors
Another thing that happens to raku, especially large pieces, platters and bowls in
particular, is that the large surface area of the piece allows that glaze on the piece to cool
more quickly than the clay body, which results in glaze crazing, most raku glazes will
craze, this crazing is one reason that raku is not considered functional. Crazing is very
evident on clear and white glazes and shows up as thin to heavy black lines. In high fire ceramics
most of these things would be called defects, but with raku the artist has to learn to work
with these things and integrate them into his work. These are the things that make raku
exciting and also insure that no two pieces are every alike.