|Raku Clay Firing at George Washington Elementary School
The students of George Washington Elementary school had a unique experience when artist Steve Ladin visited Mrs. Lentzos-Scott’s art classes to create Native American Pinch pots. The E1 3rd grade students and the 3rd/4th grade students of Mrs. Kelly’s class created pinch pot pottery in the style of the desert Native Americans. They learned about the imagery that they used to decorate their pottery, which included aquatic animals that represented the return of the rain to their lands. After creating their pinch pots, they were fired in the school kiln and Mr. Ladin returned for a day of special glazing and firing in a Raku kiln outside the school. A Raku style kiln is an old firing process that originated in Japan and was done by a family that had the name Raku. Pottery fired in this manner were popularly used during the Japanese tea ceremonies. During the glaze firing process, the clay is exposed (at the height of its temperature) to the air and then all sorts of natural materials are poured over the hot pottery, creating ash that coats the hot glaze. This creates an almost metallic look (sometimes with interesting cracking texture) to the pottery that makes this process different than the electric kiln we use in schools. It was a truly exciting art experience for the students of George Washington.