Raku in the Snow November 30, 2010 14:20

Sure one might say that it's the result of poor planning but it certainly makes for an entertaining adventure. And some people say you should never raku in the snow in the first place, but if we didn't then we wouldn't fire half as often as we do. Not only is winter the time of year when we have more time to raku, it's also the time of year that is the most comfortable in my opinion. There's no fear of heat stroke on a day like today. Rakuing in the middle of summer is simply torture. Ok, so maybe slogging through the drifts of snow with a ware-board full of fragile work isn't the most convenient. But there really is something thrilling about pulling your 1900˚F work from the kiln and sticking half of it in the snow bank before putting it into your reduction barrel. In fact I think it's probably safer to partially quench your work in snow  rather than water. Sure it's colder but snow is much less dense than water, therefore less of the surface is actually being touched which means there is less thermal shock to the clay. It does significantly cool down the parts of the clay that touch the snow and that results in cracking glaze and dramatic changes in colour once it goes into reduction. So as Pixie trudged off to chop some more firewood I opened up the torch all the way and stuffed our reduction bins with newspaper but kept the lids on them to keep them from filling up with snow. We don't fire strictly by temperature alone. We use the temperature sort of as a guide to let us know where we are at in the kiln but we don't pull anything out until all of the glazes are glowing at somewhat of a uniform orange glow and have smoothed out. When we're looking for a bit more of a matte effect we will pull when it's cooler but still our final decision is made by the look of the things in the kiln and not just what the temperature reads.