Raku is a ceramic technique of removing items from the kiln while they are still hot and submerging in saw dust or other combustible material. The result is a
metallic glaze. No two pieces are alike so there is always a feeling of expectation while waiting to see the results.
The technique lends itself well to African sculpture because unglazed surfaces become dark from the smoke.
Raku is not common in Ghana. Barbara introduced it with the intention of making it possible for the Ghanaian potters to continue using the technique. She demonstrated how to build a portable kiln using materials available in Ghana and, although she brought some glazes from the States, we experimented with glazes available in Ghana and found some of them to be suitable.
An interesting cultural hurdle was to convince the Ghanaian potters that they could use raku to their advantage. Although beautiful, raku pots are not functional and that is the problem. Africans do not use pieces for decoration. Everything is functional! We partially solved this problem by encouraging them to raku sculptural pieces. We feel that these pieces will sell in gift shops and galleries because of their uniqueness. This workshop will continue next summer. Barbara might go to a pottery village and introduce the technique to some indigenous women. All potters in Ghana, both contemporary and traditional are looking for ways to revive a weak industry.