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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Arts Council to host raku workshop

Raku pots await glazing and firing. Photo by Eric Mistry.

In the middle of downtown Grinnell this weekend, an ancient Japanese art form will create incredibly unique pottery pieces. The art form is called Raku and it is a traditional style of pottery glazing that originated in 16th century Japan. This Saturday, attendees will be able to try it out and take home their own glazed pieces.

The Grinnell Area Arts Council (GAAC) is hosting a Raku Workshop this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the downtown Grinnell Arts Center on 926 Broad St. Attendees will be able to purchase ceramic pots to glaze and have Raku-fired. Purchasing a pot includes all of the brushes and glazes needed to complete the glazing, in addition to the experience itself.

Raku pots await glazing and firing. Photo by Eric Mistry.
Raku pots await glazing and firing. Photo by Eric Mistry.

The process for attendees is relatively simple. One simply needs to show up, purchase a pot to glaze for $5-15, glaze the pot and hand it over to the event organizers.

“We bring two potters in from South Dakota, Tom and Wanda Clark, and they bring two kilns to do firings for the community,” said GAAC Arts Director Mary Rellergert ’13.

Raku is an interesting style of glazing because the results are relatively unpredictable.

“It uses both fire and smoke to create effects on the ceramic surface. You never know exactly how it will turn out, which is part of the fun,” Rellergert said.

Some of the most popular Raku glazes are an iridescent blend of earthy colors and a striking combination of black lines on white glaze caused by attaching horsehair to the surface before firing. While most pottery glazings take hours to complete and cool down, the Raku process is comparatively quick. The entire process of glazing and firing the pot should take less than three hours total. The pot can be taken home the same day as the event.

The Raku firings have been a popular event for the Grinnell Area Arts Council for a long time.

“It’s been a part of the community for over 10 years now,” Rellergert said, “This year, we’re expanding the event to include a silent auction component and a local art fair.”

The auction will include a range of impressive artwork from both past and present community members. Other attractions at the art fair include a face painting booth and a writing station with a resident of Grin City Collective.

The event will proceed rain or shine, and the activities will be tented in the event of showers. It is well worth taking a few hours out of one’s Saturday to see the Raku firings and participate. It is one of the most interesting art processes to see firsthand.

“You can watch them put the pot in the fire and watch it transform before your very eyes.  It’s pretty cool,” Rellergert said.

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