Ceramics Class Does Raku Firing

Haley Hazod, Reporter

Raku firing is a fast-fire ceramics technique used to make difficult patterns and designs. The ceramics class at north and south campus are using this technique in the parking lots. Brock Rumohr is the teacher for the ceramics class. Arrowhead also offers an Advanced Ceramics course.


Brock Rumohr, an Arrowhead art teacher, said, “Contemporary Raku firing is loosely based on an ancient Japanese ceramics technique. The process is very fun, very hands on, and it allows for the creation of surfaces and glaze colors that are very difficult to get in other ways.”


The pieces are first fired using the bisque firing technique. This is the first fire of an art piece to make it strong and keep it together. The next step is taking the pieces that are glazed and putting them into an outdoor kiln. The art class heats up the kiln with a propane burner. After the glaze has melted, the pieces are removed with tongs and placed into a trash can. The trash can is filled with combustible materials including straw, newspaper, and pine needles. Next, the lid is placed on the trash can.


The raku firing produces an unpleasant smell because when the pieces are removed from the kiln and placed into the trash can, the combustibles start on fire. 


Rumohr said, “…they start on fire due to the heat of the piece (1,800 degrees F) . When you close the lid on the flaming combustibles it creates a thick, dark, acrid smoke.”


The piece takes about 30-40 minutes to melt the glaze once the piece is in the kiln. Then the pieces are put into the cans and are ready after a couple of hours. There is an option to pull the piece out and submerge it in a bucket of water. That is called quenching and it can pose a greater risk of cracking the piece.


Senior Alicia Bouton said, “I liked raku because it was a new way to fire ceramic pieces and a new experience with Arrowhead’s art department. You didn’t know what your piece was going to look like and every piece was unique.”