The two Raku pottery workshops held in Great Brak River in early March 2023 were absolutely sizzling – for more reasons than one!

Raku, meaning “happiness in the accident”, was inspired by traditional Japanese pottery techniques and involves removing pottery from 800-1000 degrees Celsius kilns while still red-hot.

The workshops involved two different techniques, each with unique results. First, we tried our hands at “horsehair” raku. Unglazed white clay pots were placed into the kilns. Curvy black lines and smoke-like smudges were created on the white clay pots by placing horsehair, feathers and sprinklings of sugar on the pottery as it was removed from the kilns while still extremely hot. This was a sight to behold – fast-paced and exhilarating!

After that, we applied different glazes onto another set of clay pots before they were put into the kilns. When the glazed clay pots were taken from the kiln, each pot was placed in dry sawdust that caught fire from the pot’s intense heat. Pots were quickly covered with moist leaves, to starve the clay from oxygen and to produce smoke. With this technique smoke colours unglazed portions of the pottery a matte black, while the amount of oxygen that is allowed during the firing and cooling process affects the colour of the glazes.

With all the variables, the anticipation of how each piece may turn out was tangible. There were lots of “oohs” and “aahs” witnessing the intense colours and astonishing metallic effects of each pot as it was uncovered from the leaves.

The workshops were hosted at the Mabu Bloom Flower Studio and were facilitated by the charismatic Dina Grobler. Dina obtained a Master’s degree in Fine Arts at the UFS and offers classes at her studio, Firefly, in Heidelberg, Western Cape.

We are looking forward to more of Dina’s enthusiastic teachings with two Gelli-printing workshops to be held on 26 and 27 May 2023. For more information, please contact Linda at 082 374 7707.