A while back, I posted about fabricating my own Raku kiln. It’s up and running! And I am firing groups of figures that are the current exploration in my work. Please take a look.
The thread through all of my drawing and sculpting has been the expressive capacity of the body — particularly the torso. The emotional states coded into and expressed by our core muscles don’t lie. And I measure the success of my pieces by their capacity to reach out to viewers and connect on an emotional level.
Starting last year, I got interested in putting expressive figures in groups and witnessing the relationship that develops among them. At this point, I’m not trying to script that interaction. I’m leaving that to them — or really to my own inner emotional state when I made the pieces. I want to keep my rational head out of things. There is a new “Relationship” page on my site where I am collecting these groups. The three shown in this post were fired in my new kiln on April 24th.
The other pictures show how the new kiln works. A propane burner shoots a pretty awe-inspiring flame into a firebox under the pieces. The kiln body is made from ceramic fiber blanket inside wire mesh, which sits over everything, with a port at the bottom for the flame and a port at the top for venting. When the pieces reach temperature, I lift off and set aside the kiln body and replace it with the inverted trash can containing combustible material, which flames up and then depletes the atmosphere of oxygen inside the can when I seal it by pushing the rim into the sand. That reduction environment (i.e. reduced oxygen) is the essence of American Raku. It’s pretty dramatic when all this is happening, and I’d post pictures of the hot pieces and flames if I weren’t running around doing it quickly.
I think I need a Raku firing party.