Raku is a Japanese technique, born in harmony with the Zen spirit, able to enhance the harmony of the little things, finding beauty in the simplicity and naturalness of shapes.
Raku’s origin is connected to the tea ceremony: a rite, realized with simple objects, focused on the pot the hosts exchanged. Its dimension was small; it could fit the palm of a hand.
The invention of the Raku technique is attributed to a Korean artisan responsible for the production of shingles belonging to the Momoyama era (XVI sec B.C.), Chojiro, who developed this technique to facilitate the production of bowls for tea ceremonies (and his patron was Sen no Rikyu, a Master of this ceremony). The Japanese term Raku means “handy”, “relaxed”, “pleasant”, “love of life”, and comes from the Kyoto’s suburbia from which the clay was extracted during the XVI century.
From that moment it also became the surname and the seal of the potters descending from Chojiro, still active now in Japan. During the 18th century a manual meticulously explained the details of the technique, and since then Raku also spread outside Japan.
Raku pottery are very quoted and researched. A lot of these are true masterpieces and they can be enjoyed in museums and private collections.
Raku technique was introduced recently in the western world, which radically changed its basic principles. The decorative effect, with metallic reflections together with the “cavillatura”(the singularity of this process) during which the object is extracted piping hot directly from the oven (cooked at 1000°C), made it a unique technique, to the point to turn upside-down the classic method. During the Raku process the object undergoes a strong thermal shock: it is then necessary to use a solid and refractory kind of clay. This type of material has a lot of sand grains on its inside, called chamotte, that help diminish the contraction, avoiding the fractures due to high temperatures.
The refractory-white piece of clay, after being modeled, is firstly cooked between 950 and 1000°C, then the decorations takes place. In this technique oxides or glazes are used. To obtain a green colour, for example, they don’t fuse green pigments, but use copper oxide instead.
Raku‘s soul is the contact with matter and with the elements soil, water, air, fire.