If you go to enough raku events, like this annual Raku Ho`olaulea, you begin to appreciate the incredible diversity in ceramic firing techniques. I haven't even started to scratch the surface of the art of raku firing but I wanted to share this one with you. Philip Markwart, shown in photo, is a long time ceramicist who specializes in Japanese sake cups and related implements. He is also a fan of the old style wood kiln called anagama. This is usually a large kiln built to have a tunnel effect where wood is stoked in one end and as the heat travels through the chamber the ceramics gets fired. These wood kilns take a long time to heat up and require stoking for several days to reach the proper temperature. Normally these kilns are build into the land and not easily transportable. The beauty of Raku Ho`olaulea is that you get to bear witness to human ingenuity. Phil built this portable wood fire kiln, which he calls Henagama or Strange Kiln, out of ironically enough a propane tank. The irony is that most modern day raku firings are done with propane gas. In this design Phil stokes the kiln with wood from the shoot. The wood burns inside the chamber and as you can see, the flame is released out the top. The ceramic pieces are in the chamber and gets fired in the process. Amazingly, there is no glaze on any of the pieces so any resulting finish is from the wood ash fusing to the ceramic surface. Phil got some beautiful pieces as a result of the firing. Keep in mind this is a long process which as started at 7:30pm Friday and finished at 7:30am the next morning. There is quite a bit of ingenuity built into this kiln. But a key element not shown in this photo is the fan system that blows air into the bottom of the kiln chamber. When you think of it, this is quite a technological marvel built from a recycled propane tank. If you are interested in more photos from this year's Raku Ho`olaulea you can find them posted here. I should also mention that guest artist Eduardo shared a process involving Stannous Chloride which transformed a metallic finish to a rainbow of colors. All in all, for the geek who enjoys novel kiln designs, chemistry, artistry and best of all FIRE, Raku Ho`olaulea is an event to experience.
Check out the next Pecha Kucha Night in the courtyard of the Academy Art Center @ Linekona for Pecha-Kucha 8.0. Admission is free, refreshments served as usual! Friday, April 2, 2010. 6:00pm - 9:30pm. Hope to see you there. Presenters
- Debra Drexler: Chair, Drawing and Painting UH "20 years in 20 slides"
- L.P. "Neenz" Faleafine: Editor "20 Hawaii Traditions"
- Tamara Moan: Artist "The Art of Travel"
- Jeannie Randall: Visual Artist "Money Shots"
- Liz Bowen
- David Rockwood: Architect "Team Hawaii's 2011 Solar Deathlon Entry"
- Dorothy Feibleman: Ceramic Artist and Designer "various works"
- Grady Gillan: Blogger "Three Frames"
- Maika'i Tubbs: Artist "Now Playing"
Graffiti art or street art as I like to refer to these pieces, stirs feelings that range from awe to disgust in those that view it. Born out of the street punk movement dating back to the late 70's and early 80's in the subways of New York City, this was a statement by rebellious youth. Personally I don't condone the defacement of public or private property by illegal graphic expressions but on some occasions I am truly amazed at the artistry. So when I saw these pieces at the Academy Art Center at Linekona, I was quite captivated. As timing would have it, the two artists responsible for this masterpiece (and one right around the corner) were just finishing up, Prime (on the right) and Estria (on the left). I half expected them to grab their spray cans and run as I approached but this was obviously a commissioned work. Prime holds classes at places like Palama Settlement to teach youth art technique and appreciation, mentoring and leadership development. The artist collective known as 808Urban works with kids in underserved areas like Kalihi. In addition to teaching art they work with communities to create mural art, the legitimized version of street graffiti. I've seen their work in various places like the Palama Settlement and a recent mural at Kokua Foods. Checking out Estria's Flickr site, he's got all kinds of work going on in Oakland and the San Francisco Bay Area. Most of it revolves around bringing graffiti artists together to showcase their work and to collectively work on murals like the Four Guardians in Oakland. It's very impressive, in-your-face, vibrant, "happy to be alive" expressions of creativity.