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All about Raku with Paul Gisondo

Raku Kiln and Paul Gisondo at Odyssey Clayworks in Asheville NC.

This week we got to sit down and have a conversation with Odyssey Staff member and local Raku potter Paul Gisondo. 

I’ve always found refuge and inspiration in artistic expression, be it in making ceramic objects of beauty and utility, performing music, and making maps (which was my career for over 30 years). From the first day I stepped into Odyssey as a visitor –  then a student, currently a studio assistant – I loved the welcoming, communal and creative vibe Odyssey exudes.

The process I am most drawn to in ceramics is Raku firing. I love the immediacy and intense beauty imparted by the fiery process. Pieces are rapidly transformed into lustrous, crackley and iridescent works of art.

The process consists of applying lustrous copper, crackle and iridescent matte glazes to bisqued pieces, then rapidly firing them in an outdoor kiln. When the pieces reach temperature, usually around 1850-1900 degrees, they are pulled from the kiln and placed into ash cans containing combustible materials such as newsprint and sawdust. 

By smoking in the containers they are allowed to “reduce” in an atmosphere that imparts dramatic colors and effects on the surface of the pottery. It will blacken raw clay and cause crazing on the glaze surface. I love the drama, immediacy and utter unpredictability of the intense process, as well as the teamwork involved in the process.

Paul will be teaching our popular Raku workshop this October.

Raku Pottery and Paul Gisondo at Odyssey Clayworks in Asheville NC.