Whole School Raku Experience

Why do we bring Raku to students?

                                                                            -To create happiness with your own hands

                Raku-ware is a type of Japanese pottery that is traditionally and primarily used in the Japanese tea ceremony, and most often in the form of tea bowls. It is traditionally characterized by hand-molding of the clay as opposed to turning it on a potter's wheel, resulting in each piece being "one-of-a-kind";  In Japanese, Ruku () also means happiness. The Ceramics Center brings the Raku Experience to students not only so that students can have a new experience with clay but also to create and gain happiness in the process.


Our Raku-in-the-Schools Program brings together many aspects of learning and subject matters.  We invite each child, faculty, and staff member to participate and to learn all about the art, the process, the science, and the history of Raku firing.  Schools that fully embrace the project have students discuss the chemistry and physical changes in science class, they talk about the 700 year old Japanese tradition in history class, composition and form are critiqued in art class, and stories or the experience is written about in language arts.

We deliver enough clay for each person participating to create an object with ½ to ¾ of a pound of clay.  Basic instruction and direction are given to the art faculty in order to facilitate the best possible firing experience.  A period of 3-4 weeks is given to allow for the creation and bisque firing of all of the work.  During this time, we will also drop off 3 different glazes which may be used for the works as well as directions on application. 

On the scheduled date of firing all works must have been bisque-fired and glazed at least 24 hours prior.  The firing process is all done in front of the children so that they may experience an entire Raku firing from creation to the final results. 

The firing period itself runs like this: Class A’s work is fired ahead of time.  When Class A comes to watch, they are given their pieces to clean up and they watch Class B’s work being fired.  Class B comes out to watch during their period and watch Class C’s work being fired.  We continue this until all works are fired.  Firing takes 1-2 full days, depending on the number of students participating and the schedule they run on.

Students take their art-piece home the day it is fired.

Contact information:

Ben Jensen

Executive Director – The Ceramics Center