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Raku workshops bring potters together. We were very fortunate to have Julie Ayton and Glenn England run a raku workshop for Claydreamers’ students last weekend on a spectacular property in Kangaroo Ground.

It was a windy and wet Spring day in Melbourne, but luckily the clouds cleared and we were able to work outside rugged up in our jackets and hats.

Raku isn’t something that you can do on your own – it’s really a team effort. That makes it a great social activity as well as being a creative process. Julie and Glenn made sure that each of us had a go at the different aspects of raku firing, from taking pieces straight out of the kiln to preparing the raku bins.


Before the workshop, students created work with raku clay and bisque fired it. On the day of the workshop, we glazed our ceramic pieces, which were then kiln fired, smoked and plunged into water to create stunning lustres. Unlike firing ceramics in gas or electric kilns which can take 48 hours, we had our completed pieces fired within an hour.


Robert’s raku bowl.

The other great thing about raku pottery is that you can’t be too precious about the result. Once the pieces go into the bins filled with newspaper, the results are unexpected. The glaze unexpectedly slipped right off one of the pieces during firing, which made us all think of an alternative way to decorate the piece by singeing horsehair and feathers directly onto the hot ceramic vessel.


Georgina Burley applying a feather to one of her vessels still hot from the kiln.

There is always something to learn with raku firing and it’s fantastic to see everyone help each other out and learn from one another. Thanks to everyone who came along and made it such a fabulous day.

(A short video from the day will be up on the website soon.)