It can be said that my education was acquired in a non traditional setting. I
have been absorbing ideas and practicing for years. Enjoying the journey is fun and
challenging. Having great support has been crucial. Clay captured my attention
forty plus years ago. My approach to it has changed and developed over the years.
I make functional stoneware and decorative raku pottery.

The stoneware pottery is food safe, dishwasher, microwave and oven safe.
It will not withstand sudden temperature changes. This would cause the piece to
break.

The raku pottery is fired at lower temperatures than the stoneware and will
not store liquids, as it is more porous. Raku generally refers to a type of low-firing process that was inspired by traditional Japanese raku firing. Western style raku
usually involves removing pottery from the kiln while at bright red heat and placing
it into containers with combustible materials. Once the materials ignite, the
containers are closed. This produces an intense reduction atmosphere which
effects the colors in glazes and clay bodies.

One of the types of raku that I do is Obvara This is a l9th-20th century
Belarussian technique involving scalding the finish on the pottery to seal the porous
surface. The bisqued piece is heated to approximately 1650 F , removed and dunked into
the Obvara mixture and then dunked into water to rapidly cool the piece. The
pieces range from off white to almost black with speckles. It does a good job of
sealing the clay, but should still not be used for food.

Another type of Raku that I make is Horsehair Raku. This involves a method
of decorating pottery through the application of horsehair and other dry
carbonaceous material to the heated ware. The burning carbonaceous material
creates smoke patterns: and carbon trails on the surface of the heated ware that
remain as decoration after the ware cools. Although preparation is similar to pit fired pottery and other primitive firing techniques, Horsehair raku is generally
considered an alternative form of Western-style Raku ware, because it uses
Western-style Raku kilns, firing techniques and tools.

My hope is that anyone who gets a piece of my pottery will enjoy it as much
as I did making it.

Karen Sands