Great Pottery Throwdown Episode 4

By Nigel Leak posted 25-01-2022 12:45

Last Sunday night saw the making of Raku pottery and handles being made by the pulling technique.

As in previous series, we saw some fantastic and novel colours and decoration produced using this technique.

Why is the technique not so widely used to produce the tableware and ornamental ware seen in our larger stores?

Producing the colour and glaze effects is not considered insurmountable once the supply of oxide colours and process parameters are established.  Likewise the risk of thermal shock. 

I think the main issue is firing the items in sufficient volumes to make this a commercial proposition.  The rapid rate of cooling and immersion into the combustibles requires manual operation.  This means that a large number of skilled potters are needed to produce a large number of pieces day in and day out.

The handle pulling technique is ideal for plastic forming the handles for large items.  Requires skill but is achievable with the necessary amount of training. It is also a simpler and less expensive method of producing handles than slip casting if smaller numbers are required.

One contestant attempted to attach a flexible wood handle to a Raku teapot via two attachment holes.  The wood proved too flexible, sprang, and broke the attachment holes because of the tensile forces which developed - thus demonstrating the old adage that ceramics are fantastically strong in compression but less so in tension.  I think this is why we do not see ceramic suspension bridges!​