Out of the fire

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Last night we had a very special workshop with potter Richard Brandt  firing black raku style teabowls. Richard is a long time Portland ceramic artist who also has studied chado.  He understands the form and functionality of the teabowl because he has used them in the tea ceremony.  His generous offer to hold a workshop for the students of Issoan Tea School was exhilarating and inspiring.

We began the evening choosing teabowls that Richard had already formed.  To make it fair, ecah student chose a number and we got to choose from in the order of our drawn number.

 Next the glaze was applied

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While the glaze was drying, Richard gave a lecture and slide show of the history of Raku style bowls.  He emphasized the Raku is not a process, but a family name.  He also covered the differences in Japanese style rakuware  and American style rakuware where heavy metals are used to achieve iridescent colors.
The teabowls were then placed in the kiln and fired to more than 1800 degreees.

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By looking at the bowls in the kiln, Richard could tell when it was time to pull them out. At the proper time, the kiln was opened and the teabowls were sitting there glowing white and orange.

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It was quite dramatic as he pulled each teabowl from the kiln while it was still glowing hot and plunged it into a bucket of water.

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The teabowls heated the water to boiling temperatures but then were set on the bricks to cool further.  You can see the steam coming from the bowls as they are cooling.

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And there is nothing like that first taste of tea in a brand new teabowl.

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 Then the bowls were carefully wrapped in presentation boxes and presented to students.  I will be naming each bowl an will calligraphy the name on the boxes for each student.

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Permanent link to this article: http://issoantea.com/out-of-the-fire/

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