The Raku Process: Tom's Western version of this 16th Century Japanese fast-firing technique (originally used for firing tea bowls used in the Tea Ceremony) creates a dramatic and exciting "event". Forms made with special clays are glazed in a variety of ways : from metallic copper washes and clear crackle glazes to glazes with copper filings or metal oxides and thick slips that are designed to pop off the surface and reveal underlying smoke patterns. Patterns and textures from stamps, rollers, fishnet, bubble-wrap, grates and other materials provide a lively and varied surface for the glaze treatments of each unique piece. Then comes the dramatic firing of the prepared pieces...placed either singly or in small groups in an already-hot gas-fired kiln, the pieces quickly reach glaze-melt temperature (around 1800 degrees F). That's when the fun begins! The kiln is opened and the hot pieces are quickly removed with special tongs , places in sawdust-lined pits on the ground ,then covered and sealed with straw-lined metal cans. If this process is done quickly and deftly, metals such as copper in the glazes or washes will be "reduced" to their coppery red colors ; slower movements or periodic "burping" of the covering can will introduce air into the burning materials , producing the wonderful variations of color and crackle effects for which Tom's work is known. (For example, where there is copper in the glaze, the air will "oxidize" it to one of its green versions...but always in a unique way!) Raku is all about the unexpected , the spontaneous, the joy of the process. Influence, rather than control...to produce truly unique pieces of ceramic art.