Raku: What No One Is Talking About

Raku: What No One Is Talking About

What does raku mean in pottery?

Raku is a type of pottery that originated in Japan in the 16th century. The word "raku" can be translated to mean "enjoyment," "comfort," or "ease." Raku pottery is known for its unique firing process, which involves removing the pieces from the kiln at high temperatures and placing them in combustible materials such as sawdust or straw. This technique creates unpredictable and varied patterns on the surface of the pottery, making each piece one-of-a-kind. Raku pottery is often used for tea ceremonies and is highly valued for its beauty and imperfections.

How is raku pottery different?

Raku pottery is different from other types of pottery in several ways:

  • Firing process: Raku pottery is fired at a lower temperature than other types of pottery, typically between 800 and 1,100 degrees Celsius. It is removed from the kiln while it is still hot and then cooled rapidly in the open air or in a container filled with combustible materials such as sawdust or leaves. This process creates unique and unpredictable patterns of glaze and crackling on the surface of the pottery.
  • Glaze: Raku pottery is often glazed with a low-fire glaze made from a combination of clay, feldspar, and other materials. This glaze is typically thin and uneven, which contributes to the unique patterns that are created during the firing process.
  • Design: Raku pottery often features simple, elegant designs that are inspired by nature or traditional Japanese motifs. It is also common for raku pottery to incorporate imperfections and irregularities into the design, as these are seen as a reflection of the natural world and the impermanence of life.

Overall, raku pottery is known for its unique beauty and the unpredictable nature of its firing process, making it a highly sought-after form of art.

Can raku pottery get wet?

Raku pottery is known for its unique and distinctive appearance, which is achieved through a specific firing process that involves removing the pottery from the kiln while it is still hot and placing it in a combustible material. However, raku pottery is not generally considered to be waterproof or water-resistant, so it is not recommended to expose it to water or other liquids for extended periods of time.

While some raku pottery may be treated with a glaze that provides a certain level of water resistance, it is still not advisable to expose it to moisture for extended periods of time, as the porous nature of the clay can still allow water to seep into the surface of the pottery, potentially causing damage over time. As a result, it is generally recommended that raku pottery be used for decorative purposes only and not for functional items like vases or bowls that may be exposed to liquids.

Is Raku Fragile?

Raku pottery is generally more fragile than other types of pottery because of the way it is made and fired. Raku pottery is typically made by hand and fired at a lower temperature than other types of pottery, which makes it more porous and less dense. This can make raku pottery more susceptible to cracking or breaking, especially if it is not handled or stored carefully.

However, the fragility of raku pottery can also be seen as a unique characteristic that adds to its beauty and value. Raku pottery is known for its delicate and intricate designs, and the unpredictability of the firing process can create interesting patterns and textures on the surface of the pottery.

It's important to note that not all raku pottery is fragile, and the degree of fragility can vary depending on the specific piece and the skill of the artist who made it. Some raku pottery may be more durable than others, depending on factors such as the thickness of the walls and the quality of the clay used.

Can you do raku at home?

Yes, it is possible to do raku pottery at home, but it requires some specialized equipment and precautions due to the high temperatures involved in the firing process. Here are the basic steps to create raku pottery at home:

  • Create your pottery: You can use any type of clay to create your pottery, but it's important to keep in mind that raku pottery is typically thin-walled and has a lot of surface texture. You can create your pottery using a potter's wheel or hand-building techniques.
  • Bisque-fire your pottery: Once your pottery is dry, you need to bisque-fire it in a kiln to remove any remaining moisture and strengthen the clay. The bisque-firing temperature for raku pottery is typically around 1800-1900 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Apply glaze: After the bisque-firing, you can apply your glaze to the pottery. Raku glazes are typically made from low-fire materials and are designed to create unique patterns and textures during the firing process.
  • Raku-firing: The final step is to fire your pottery in a raku kiln. Raku firing typically takes place outside and involves heating the pottery to around 1800-2000 degrees Fahrenheit before removing it from the kiln and quickly cooling it down. This rapid cooling process creates unique patterns and colors on the surface of the pottery.

It's important to note that raku firing can be dangerous and should be done with caution. You will need to use heat-resistant gloves, a face shield, and other safety equipment to protect yourself during the firing process. It's also important to have a fire extinguisher on hand and to follow all safety guidelines provided by your kiln manufacturer.

Is raku Toxic?

Raku pottery, like any other type of pottery, can be potentially toxic if it is not made properly or used incorrectly. Raku pottery is a type of pottery that is fired at a low temperature and removed from the kiln while it is still hot. The rapid cooling process produces unique colors and textures in the glaze.

However, during the raku firing process, the pottery is not vitrified, which means that it is still porous and may not be fully sealed. This can lead to the absorption of liquids and other substances, which may be toxic or harmful. Additionally, some raku glazes may contain lead or other toxic materials, so it is important to use caution when handling or using raku pottery.

To ensure safety when using raku pottery, it is recommended to only use it for decorative purposes, as opposed to food or drink containers. If you do use raku pottery for food or drink, make sure it has been properly glazed and fired and avoid exposing it to acidic or alkali substances, which can cause the glaze to break down and release toxins. Additionally, always wash raku pottery thoroughly before use.

How do you clean raku pottery?

When it comes to cleaning raku pottery, it's important to handle it with care to avoid damaging the delicate glaze.

Here are some steps you can follow to clean your raku pottery:

  • Wait for the pottery to cool completely after use. Do not clean hot raku pottery as it may crack or shatter.
  • Use a soft-bristled brush or a clean cloth to remove any loose dirt or dust from the surface of the pottery.
  • Fill a basin or sink with warm water and add a small amount of mild dish soap. Do not use abrasive cleaners or scrubbers as they can damage the glaze.
  • Gently wash the pottery with the soapy water using a soft-bristled brush or sponge. Avoid scrubbing too hard or using too much pressure as this can cause the glaze to crack.
  • Rinse the pottery thoroughly with clean water to remove any soap residue.
  • Dry the pottery with a soft cloth or allow it to air dry. Do not use a heat source to dry the pottery as this can cause the glaze to crack or craze.
  • Store your raku pottery in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources.

By following these simple steps, you can safely clean your raku pottery and ensure that it remains beautiful for years to come.


Raku pottery is a type of Japanese pottery that has a long history of being associated with spirituality and the tea ceremony. It was first developed in the 16th century by a Japanese tea master named Sen no Rikyu, who believed that the beauty of tea should be appreciated through all the senses, including sight, touch, and sound.

In Raku pottery, there is a focus on imperfection and asymmetry, which are seen as essential elements of beauty. This philosophy is rooted in Zen Buddhism, which emphasizes the importance of living in the present moment and appreciating the natural world. Raku pottery also incorporates the concept of wabi-sabi, which celebrates the beauty of imperfection and transience.

The firing process of Raku pottery is also seen as a spiritual practice, as it involves a combination of precision and intuition. The potter must carefully monitor the temperature of the kiln, but also must rely on their intuition to know when the pot is ready to be removed from the kiln. This process is seen as a metaphor for the unpredictability of life and the importance of being present in the moment.

In addition to its associations with Zen Buddhism and the tea ceremony, Raku pottery has also been used as a tool for meditation and self-reflection. The process of creating a piece of pottery can be a meditative practice in itself, and the finished piece can serve as a reminder of the impermanence of life and the importance of embracing beauty in the present moment.

Raku pottery has since spread around the world, with artists adapting the technique to create their own unique styles and designs. It is a popular form of pottery in many countries, and is often used for decorative purposes such as vases, bowls, and sculptures.

The creation of Raku pottery requires a combination of technical skill and artistic vision. The process can be both challenging and rewarding, as artists must carefully control the firing and cooling process to achieve the desired results.

In conclusion, Raku pottery is a fascinating art form with a rich history and a wide range of contemporary applications. Whether you are an artist, collector, or simply an admirer of beautiful objects, Raku pottery is a worthwhile pursuit that offers endless possibilities for creativity and expression.

This is your chance to get Raku at its original and enjoy it's authenticity:


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