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May 28: Symposium features raku-fired pottery exhibit, lectures, demonstrations

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

FREDERICK, Md.—A symposium that features an exhibit of raku- and obvara-fired pottery, lectures and demonstrations will take place at Hood College beginning June 5.

More than 30 artists from around the country contributed their work to the Contemporary Raku exhibit, which will be on display June 5-29 in the Whitaker Gallery in the Whitaker Campus Center at Hood College. An opening reception for the exhibition will be held June 5 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the gallery, which is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The history of raku and obvara—a type of raku—finishing techniques will be offered in three lectures.

Joyce Michaud, associate professor of art and director of Hood’s graduate ceramic arts programs, will give a slide lecture entitled Raku: Traditional Japanese Aesthetics to Contemporary Expression June 7 at 3 p.m. in the College's Whitaker Campus Center, Room 220. The lecture will be followed by a wine and cheese reception.

She will also discuss the contemporary uses of the raku finishing technique June 14 at 4 p.m. in the Whitaker Campus Center Commons Room.

Janice Chassier, who earned a master of arts degree in ceramic arts at Hood, will give a lecture on the Obvara firing technique June 13 at 6 p.m. in the Whitaker Campus Center, Room 220.

Brett Thomas, owner of Mobile Raku, along with Hood graduate students, will demonstrate the raku process June 6 at 1 p.m. at the Hodson Kiln Pavilion.

Thomas and Chassier will demonstrate raku firing as well as assist participants with the raku and obvara firing of their own ceramic pieces June 12, 13 and 14 from 9:30 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m.

Raku-fired pieces will be available for sale June 12-14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Hodson Annex ceramic arts studios. A silent auction will be held June 12 and 13 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and June 14 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Whitaker Campus Center, Room 220. A live auction will be held there June 14 at 5 p.m.

The origins of raku can be traced back to Japan during the late 16th century, where it was used as the traditional method of creating clay bowls for the tea ceremony. Over the years, potters have embraced and adapted these methods, which produce unusual and unpredictable surface results. In the raku process, the ceramic pieces are heated quickly, removed from the kiln while still white hot and then rapidly cooled.

Obvara is a 19th to 20th century Balarussian finishing technique that involves scalding the finish on the pottery to seal the porous surface. The ceramic piece is heated to a very high temperature, removed from the kiln and placed in the Obvara mixture—water, flour, sugar and yeast—and then placed in water to rapidly cool.

For information about the exhibit and symposium events, contact Jenna Gianni at or visit