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RAKU w/o Glazes = "Naked RAKU" or "Naku"

Like many advances in life, sometimes we run into 'happy accidents' that become stepping-stones. Naked Raku or as it has become known 'Naku' was 'introduced' to me by my usual and regular way of firing Western Style Raku.

As it happens with multiple firings and doing many pieces, sometimes confusion sets in and becomes an issue. In the process and in the haste of Raku Firings, it is a hectic frenzy of removing ware from a kiln approaching couple thousands degrees and then placing the pieces in reduction containers.

As it happened, I simply lost track of what I was doing and some pottery 'masterpieces' did not come out of the reduction 'like” as expected. I decided to try re-firing one piece that had a lot of effort in the conception but was a dud in the firing.

Re-firing in itself is risky as there is high failure to clay objects undergoing the first firing because of 'thermal shock.' Twice firing compounds the issue and multi-firings usually result in total loss. Again a piece didn't come out with the desired 'look.' I decided to fire it again. With the successive firings the heating and cooling caused the glaze to start peeling off the vessel. I decided to scrape off the crackled and mottled surface so as to re-glaze again. Much to my surprise the pot was very striking when all the glaze covering was removed. I didn't know at the time that there were other artists who were purposely doing what was an accident to me.

While delivering some of my work to a gallery, I noticed a very unusual vessel that had a similar surface appearance to my 'accident' pot. Then there was another and another and several more. Somehow what I had done by accident was really a movement in the clay art community. After some research I came across an artist from Europe who was coming to America to give a workshop in what was called, 'Naked Raku.'

I attended his workshop here in the USA and then another workshop by a gal originally from Europe. The rest as they say, '...is history!'

Naku is clay without a glazed surface. Usually Naku ware is highly burnished before the first firing so the surface has sheen. After the first firing the work is treated with a liquid clay 'slip' and then glazed to hold the slip in place. After another firing, if done as desired and the Kiln Gods are happy, these coverings are removed leaving clay 'painted' by fire envisioned by the artist. The work is then cleaned. Dried and sealed with a fine wax. Sounds simple but it is a rather tedious process and as with 'Raku,' the 'Naku' undergoes more of a process then most other kinds of clay made art.