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Finished Christmas Ornaments!

January 15, 2013

The best Christmas ornaments are bright, shiny and a bit gaudy so I decided to fire my ornaments in the raku kiln so I could use our copper glazes! I enjoyed making ornaments so much, I just kept making them until I made 40! It took three raku firings to fit them all. The copper raku glazes vary from being shiny and smooth to crackled and crusty. We even have a white glaze that has a crackled effect from the process.

The copper gets its beautiful color and the white glaze crackles because we pull the pieces out of the kiln while they are still red hot, place them in metal cans filled with wood shavings, and create a seal with the lid. The trapped fire, smoke, and lack of oxygen inside the can produce the colors of the copper. The “airtight” seal is created by placing wet newspaper and a lid on top of the can. I say “airtight” because some smoke always gets out and I end up smelling like I have been using a grill. The trick is to get the piece into the can quickly and cover it quickly so it is exposed to as little oxygen as possible. Copper that got too much oxygen turns green, but if it avoids too much oxygen the color varies beautifully from gold to orange or dark purple. One of my favorite glazes is called shiny James which frequently turns a bit blue along with the gold color.

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In these pictures Kristen is pulling the ornaments out with large metal pokers. She has had lots of practice so I let her pull them while I quickly put on the lids. It would have been very sad for me to drop any of them! Jay is my third person who opens and closes the kiln door so that it does not stay open too long. Then I have to wait about 45 minutes for the cans to cool down so I can open them up and see how they turned out. It is always a surprise how the colors of the copper have varied. Below are some of the pictures I took with the ornaments on my tree! My blog about Christmas ornaments comes a little late in the season due to the fact, like many others, I was sick a lot of the holidays. But here they are! Your wait for finished pictures is now over!

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