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Raku Firing - Tom Radca

Raku Firing - Tom Radca

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Published by Stefan Van Cleemput
Large Raku Platters
by Tom Radca

Tom Radca uses slips and stains on his large thrown platters. An alternative postfiring reduction technique decreases losses from thermal shock on platters up to 36 inches in diameter.

I

’ve been making pottery for more than twenty years, specializing in large platters and murals composed of hand-cut tiles. My first venture into making large platters ended in disaster. Out of more than seventy large platters, only eight survived. Through experimentation (and d
Large Raku Platters
by Tom Radca

Tom Radca uses slips and stains on his large thrown platters. An alternative postfiring reduction technique decreases losses from thermal shock on platters up to 36 inches in diameter.

I

’ve been making pottery for more than twenty years, specializing in large platters and murals composed of hand-cut tiles. My first venture into making large platters ended in disaster. Out of more than seventy large platters, only eight survived. Through experimentation (and d

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Published by: Stefan Van Cleemput on Sep 14, 2012
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10/06/2013

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130
by Tom Radca
I
’ve been mak-ing pottery formore than twentyyears, specializing in largeplatters and murals composed
of hand-cut tiles. My rst venture
into making large platters ended indisaster. Out of more than seventylarge platters, only eight survived.Through experimentation (and de-termination), I was able to resolveall the technical issues dealing withthrowing, manipulating, drying and
ring these large forms.
 As for glazing, I wanted to get backto the kind of glazes I used at KansasState University working under Angelo Garzio, but I just didn’t want
to go up to high-re stoneware tem
-peratures. So I developed the rakuglazing techniques that I now use onmy platters. I found a cone 04 glazethat I thought would be good for a
raku-type ring, and sprayed it on
a vessel, applied a stain of iron and
copper, then red it in an old electric
kiln that I had converted to a rakukiln. I’ve also discovered that thecone 9 white glaze I used in schoolcould be used at the much lower
raku temperatures. The under-red
glaze had a cratered lava look andby using iron and copper stains, Iwas able to achieve surfaces remi-niscent of landscapes from my manytravels abroad.Firing large platters using a raku
ring method would be extremely
challenging if I used a conventional
ring regimen, that is, re to tem
-perature, then remove the work and
immerse it in a post-ring reduction
receptacle. With platters weighingmore than 30 pounds, this methodwould not only be dangerous, butit would most likely increase thebreakage rate. My solution was to
place my work in a kiln, re it up
to cone 09, at which point, I shut off 
the gas and stoke the rebox fullwith oak. After a good re has start
-
ed in the kiln, I close up the ue hole
in the top, brick up the burner portand then walk away; no lifting, no
Tom Radca uses slipsand stains on his largethrown platters. Analternative postringreduction techniquedecreases losses romthermal shock on plat-ters up to 36 inches indiameter.
Large RakuPlatters
 
hassling with heavy red-hot work,and no breathing smoke. Unloadingthe kiln the next day nearly alwaysreveals success.
Throwing Large Platters
Use 36 pounds of fairly stiff clay for
these large platters (gure 1). To re
-duce stress on your back and arms,
center only 12 pounds at a time.Center and atten each 12-pound
lump before the next lump is added
(gure 2). Standing will improve
your leverage.Open up the centered clay andcheck the thickness of the bottom
(gure 3). It should be about ¾ inch
thick. Start the platter as a funnelshape before pushing the sides down
into a platter form (gure 4).
Trim excess clay from the base of the platter, then remove the bat andplatter from the wheel and hold chest
high (gure 5). I discovered that it’snext to impossible to ip a freshly
thrown large platter upside downonto a drape mold. Intentionally col-lapsing the rim makes it possible,but you have to bounce the bat to get
the clay to collapse (gure 6). With
the rim completely collapsed, getyour shoulder under the rim of the
bat to prepare to ip the platter over(gure 7).
If the rim had not been collapsed,it would have folded under when
ipped over. Once it’s on the form,remove the bat (gure 8). To reduce
cracking problems, trim the excessclay from the base to get a moreeven thickness between the lip and
the foot (gure 9).
 Alter the form using a rolling pin
(gure 10). Since the clay is still very
wet at this point, use plastic as abarrier so it doesn’t stick to the pin.Roll clay from the rim toward thebase so that the foot becomes a dome
(gure 11). Using your thumb, press
in on the center of the dome to create
a foot (gure 12). This will allow theplatter to sit at.
Once all the forming is complete,cover the lip of the platter with plas-
tic so it will dry slowly (gure 13).
The plastic should stick because theclay is still wet, but it will releaseas the clay dries. Use a bent nail to
make holes for a hanger (gure 14).
Depending on the time of year, theseplatters can take anywhere froma few days to a couple of weeks todry—don’t rush it.
RakuFiring
131
Recipe
Kansas State White Slip
Cone 9
Dolomite10 %Custer Feldspar 14Ball clay 29EPK Kaolin38Silica9100 %
 
132
Ceramic Arts Handbook
TIP
Using a steel yardstickon the inside brings thewall down quickly andevenly.
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