2018 Classes

Raku Workshop: A Unique Firing Experience

Raku pottery birdhouse dolphinLocation: Truro Center Castle Hill for the Arts
4 session workshop
June 18 – 22
Mon & Tues:  9am – 1pm
Thurs & Fri: 9am – 3pm

A spectacular alternative firing technique! Unlike most ceramic firing processes Raku is a very fast process. Red hot pieces are removed from the kiln and smothered with combustible materials to create flashes of color in the glazes. Results will vary from turquoise to intense red/bronze to beautiful white crackle. We will also be experimenting with horse hair Raku. Raku never gets boring. It is elusive, mysterious, and totally at the mercy of nature’s fire. The unpredictability of the process is what makes it so exciting. Lois will also be demonstrating slab built vessels. This Raku workshop is open to all levels of expertise, people with little previous clay experience are welcomed.

Lois Hirshberg began working in clay in 1976 at Mudflat Studios in Cambridge, where she fell in  love with clay. She holds a M.Ed in mental health counseling, and a M. A. in Art Therapy. She has studied ceramics at the Bezalel School of Design in Jerusalem, and in Japan through the Parsons School of Design, where she was greatly influenced. Lois was a Guidance Counselor at the K.C.Coombs School in Mashpee, MA for 18 years.

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For more info, contact Lois at potterybylois@comcast.net or visit Truro Center Castle Hill for the Arts.


Raku pottery classLocation: Featherstone Center for the Arts Pottery Studio
October 20 & 21
Saturday & Sunday
$150 for the two day workshop

During this workshop, we will be experimenting with various alternative firing techniques: American Raku, Horse Hair Raku and Foil Saggar. We will focus on the surface decoration of pots. Participants will fire their bisqued pottery in atmospheres where the smoke and/or chemicals produce the final surface design. The pots will range from deep reds and oranges to beautiful white crackle. Alternative Firing techniques never get boring! Students should bring 8 to 10 bisque fired pots with terra sigilata (if possible). Beginners are welcome.

**Please bring lunch, snacks and drinks for Saturday and Sunday. The fall weather is usually cool so please dress warmly (in layers) as you will be outside firing for part of each day.

Please call Featherstone Center for the Arts at 508-693-1850 to register.


Applying Terra Sigillata:

Terra sigillata should be applied to a bone-dry or almost bone-dry pot. If you are brushing it on, you need to apply at least three coats. If you are putting white terra sigillata on white clay, three coats is probably plenty. The terra sigillata needs to soak into the clay, but should not be allowed to dry completely between coats. Once you have applied several coats, the surface should be buffed with your fingers, a cloth or chamois-leather before it dries completely. The pot is ready to buff when the surface looks waxy and grey but is no longer wet-looking. If it has lightened in color, it has dried too much and another coat of terra sigillata must be applied. For the greatest degree of sheen, apply three thin coats and buff after each coat.

Watch out for two things when you are brushing on terra sigillata: don’t let it drip down your pot, because the drips will show; and don’t allow your brush to lose hairs, as the hairs will make a permanent mark. Be sure to use a good quality soft brush – a watercolor mop brush works well. If you are brushing terra sigillata onto a wheel-thrown pot, the simplest way to apply a nice even coat is to put the pot on the wheel and let the wheel do the work for you while you move the brush up and down. Once you have enough coats on part of the pot, you can start burnishing with the fingertips of one hand while you are still brushing the terra sigillata onto another part of the pot with the other hand.

Don’t touch the surface until it has soaked in, though if the terra sigillata comes off on your fingers, it isn’t ready to burnish yet, and you will mar the surface by touching it. After you have applied enough terra sigillata to the whole pot, and there are no wet patches, then you can start using a chamois-leather or a soft cloth, or even a thin plastic shopping bag, to bring the surface to a high gloss.

If you are applying terra sigillata to a handbuilt or sculptural piece, you may find it impossible to use the wheel to help with the job. In that case, you can still brush it on, but be careful not to touch any wet spots.

For Private Lessons, contact me at potterybylois@comcast.net