If the Beginning Raku clip from a couple of weeks ago whet your appetite for raku firing, today’s clip will really make your stomach growl. Gordon Hutchens returns today demonstrating a slip-resist decorating technique.


Sometimes called naked raku (but this video is G-rated) or peel-away slip, the technique involves painting clay slip onto bisqueware and then raku firing. The slip cracks as it dries and the smoke penetrates the cracks during post-firing reduction. Then the slip is “peeled” or scraped off leaving a beautiful cracked pattern. In addition to the video, I have also posted more instruction on naked raku and a peel-away slip recipe below. -Jennifer Harnetty, editor.

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This clip was excerpted from Variations on Raku with Gordon Hutchens,
which is available in the Ceramic Arts Daily Bookstore.

More fun with Peel-Away Slip!
The following technique comes to us from Mark S. Richardson. Richardson devised a system for getting peel-away slip onto his pots, keeping the slip in tact through the firing and reduction process, and then removing it easily at the end. Here, we present a fairly straight-forward version of his process, but check out Raku, Pit and Barrel: Firing Techniques for a more thorough explanation.

Step 1
Begin by dipping a bisque-fired vessel in the slip.

Peel Away Slip Recipe:
Fireclay 60%
Kaolin 20
Silica 15
Grog (fine) 5
Total: 100%

This slip should be mixed to the consistency of pudding.

Step 2
Immediately place a piece of fiberglass screening (available at hardware stores) around the piece, so the screen is embedded in the slip. This will make it easier to remove after firing, but won’t prevent the slip from cracking to allow for smoke to get tot he ware. Follow the screen with a piece of newspaper. This will will protect it during the firing and keep it from becoming attached to other pieces.

Step 3

Stack all your pieces in a basket constructed of steel fencing bound together with #10 binding wire (both available from a hardware store) and place in an outdoor kiln. Fire slowly to 1100°F (or until you see color in the kiln).

Step 4

Using heat-resistant gloves and full heat-resistant body protection, transfer the basket to a steel garbage can with a small amount of combustible material in the bottom and along the sides. It will ignite immediately, so don’t lean over it. Add more combustible material on top of the basket and put the can lid in place so the material smolders and creates smoke (now you see why we’re outside for this).

Step 5
After the combustible material has burned and the ware has cooled, the slip can be removed by pulling on the fiberglass mesh that still surrounds the pieces. Because the slip shrinks and cracks, but stays attached to the pieces, the smoke can only get to the surface through the cracks.
This type fo ware is usually still porous after firing, and should not be used for food-surface contact. Refiring will remove any smoke marking.
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