Theresa Marie creates a piece of Raku at the Art House.

U-Fire Raku a popular community event

U-Fire Raku a popular community event at the Art House

There was a three-ring circus of sorcerers at the Art House in Hagensborg last Sunday, complete with a conjurer threatening the rain gods, a goggle-eyed monster wielding tongs, and a Chinese straw-hatted nymph revealing flame-glowing pots in her furnace.  These were helped in their wizardry by several sorcerer’s apprentices. A large coterie of assistants conjured up food, drink and musical entertainment for those attending the circus.

Well, to be truthful, it wasn’t an actual circus, but an event put on by the Arts Council.  Three local potters, Marc Hedges, Theresa Marie Bagshaw and Ernest Hall, collaborated to provide a day of entertainment and learning, based on the making of raku pottery.  Despite wind and a few rain showers, people were pleased with the opportunity to participate in this unique hands-on experience.

After deciding on the type of bisque-ware they wanted to experiment with, participants chose the glazes and applied them with a variety of brushes. The pieces looked decidedly uninteresting, but were nevertheless whisked off by the apprentices to the open-air den of the sorcerers.

There the three wizards, who each had a furnace (a Raku kiln home-made from a rusty oil drum and fired by a roaring propane torch) tended to the pieces they were charged with transforming.  First the pieces were pre-warmed on top of the furnaces, then gently placed with long-handled tongs on supports within the soon-to-be inferno. The entry was sealed off and the 1,900 F heat began its magical transformative work. About 20 minutes later, when the glaze had melted sufficiently, the torches were extinguished and the door opened.  There inside, glowing incandescently in a variety of golden hues, were the transformed bisque-ware pieces

Carefully, with the long tongs, they were transferred to a bed of dried leaves, shredded paper, sawdust, and straw, and quickly covered.  Smoke from the leaves ignited by the glowing pieces billowed out as the transformation continued, now aided by Mother Nature’s provender.  After a few minutes the pieces were again revealed, now in their final transformed state.  People could then reclaim their bit of sorcery and carry it home to remind them in the future of their brush with magic.

Around 70 people, young and old, participated in this fun family event. 84 pots and plaques of bisque-ware were transformed by the sorcerers and their furnaces. The event was also successful in raising funds to help transform the Art House into a “Gallery Shop” and vibrant centre for local artists to market their work. Similar events are anticipated in the future. Coming soon on May 23 to 26 will be a Children’s Art Show.  This is an opportunity for budding artists amongst the youth in the valley to publicly show their work. See elsewhere in this paper for details.