2023 Classes

Raku Firing Workshop

raku firing workshopLocation: Cotuit Center for the Arts
McGraw Ceramic Studio
•  Thursday, June 15, 9am – 4pm
•  Thursday, September 14, 9am – 4pm
$154/$138 members per session

During this workshop with Lois Hirshberg, participants will learn how to achieve dramatic results from this spectacular firing technique! In contrast to most ceramic firing processes, Western Raku is very fast. Combustible materials are smothered over the hot pieces after they are removed from the kiln. The vibrant colors and crackling of the glaze occur during this final smoking phase.

Various results can be achieved, ranging from turquoise to intense red/bronze to beautiful white crackle. We will also be experimenting with Horsehair Raku.

Western Raku is mysterious and elusive. The unpredictability of the process is what makes it so exciting!

You will glaze and fire your bisqued pieces outside in our two raku kilns. Everyone is welcome to this workshop, regardless of their level of expertise.

To safely handle and fit them inside the kiln, you’ll need 3-5 bisqued pieces made from Raku or white stoneware clay no larger than 10″ x 5″.

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Saggar Firing Workshop

saggar firing workshop

Location: Cotuit Center for the Arts
•  Thursday, May 18, 9am – 4pm
•  Thursday, August 31, 9am – 4pm
$140/$126 members per session

A saggar is a container that holds the ceramic ware as it is being fired in the kiln. In this workshop with artist Lois Hirshberg, we will explore methods of preparing and firing ceramic pieces in saggars to produce beautiful surface effects. We will experiment by loading the saggars with ceramic pieces surrounded by organic materials. Traditionally, saggars are made out of clay, but we will be using tin foil.

The purpose of the saggar is to provide an environment for fuming. The saggar is filled with a variety of materials, including seaweed, straw, sawdust, copper wire, salt, used coffee grinds, and more. The resulting color range includes blacks, pinks, maroons, oranges, and other colors depending on the ingredients used in the saggar.

We will then fire the kiln for several hours (until the tin foil turns to dust). When the ceramic pieces are cool enough to touch, we will remove them from the kiln and see what colors have emerged.

Each workshop participant should bring 4 or 5 small bisque pieces.
$20 materials fee to be paid directly to the instructor.
Please bring a brown bag lunch.

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Raku and Alternative Firing

alternative firing raku workshop

Location: Truro Center Castle Hill for the Arts
Dates: Tuesday – Friday, September 5 – 8
Times: 9am – 2pm
4 sessions

Join Lois Hirshberg for a 4 day fun and exciting workshop to explore a variety of alternative firing techniques and their diverse results. Learn about Western Raku, Obvara, Horse Hair and Saggar, and the spontaneous and unpredictable magic and alchemy of these four firing processes, There also will be an opportunity to experiment with terra sigillata. The workshop is intended for ceramicists who have limited to no previous knowledge of Alternative Firing techniques or for those who would like a fresh perspective on these firing methods.

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This is a firing only workshop – we will not be making any clay pieces.
Students will need to bring their own bisque ware and green ware ceramic pieces no larger than 10” tall and 5” wide:

alternative firing raku pottery4 – 5 bone dry pieces for experimenting with terra sig

4 – 5 bisqued pieces

Recommendations for clay body:
Bisqued Ware – Raku Clay 250 Laguna

Green Ware –  Bone dry: High Fire (cone 6 – 10) Stoneware with fine grog Laguna 510

What else to bring:

  • Cotton long sleeve shirt and long pants
  • Closed toed shoes
  • Cotton head covering
  • Your favorite brushes for glazing

Clay is available for purchase from the Castle Hill ceramic studio. Bags range in price from $25 – $35 depending on type of clay. All purchases include a bisque firing. Glaze firings are an additional cost calculated per cubic foot of kiln space.
We’re sorry, but you cannot put contaminated liquid down the drains! Please take home any solvents or paint mediums after your workshop. Rags are provided for clean up, and must be disposed in the proper fire-safe bins if used. Thank you for your cooperation.

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Upcoming Workshops

Cotuit Center for the Arts (registration not yet available on their website)
July 20th Saggar Firing
August 31st  Alternative Firing

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2 months ago

Hirshberg Pottery

It was a fun day firing up the Raku kiln at Castle Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill for these kids. They all learned that Raku means Happiness. ... See MoreSee Less

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Lois HirshbergLOIS HIRSHBERG, M.A. has been working with clay since 1975. Her art training includes Mudflat Pottery, Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, and the Parsons School of Design in Japan. Her work has been shown at galleries nationally and internationally for more than 35 years. Lois’ specialty is Alternative Firing (Western Raku, Horse Hair Raku, Saggar, and Obvara).

For Private Lessons


Contact me at potterybylois@comcast.net