Chad Jerzak • Nowthen, MN • Raku

I have been creating pottery for over twenty-five years.  During my middle school years, I became very interested in art and it was there that I first experienced a formal art education. 

My interest in clay began in High School when taking a beginning clay class in 9th grade.  Ever since that time, I have been working in clay as my preferred medium. 


At the age of 16, I began working with ceramic artist and art educator James Loso.  Working with him taught me not only refined form and creating well thrown pots, but also a lot about design. 

Loso, being well-educated and experienced in many processes involving clay, was able to teach me much about the Raku process and also gave me the opportunity to work with functional stoneware and porcelain. 

Working in Loso’s studio throughout High School and College supplied me with much insight and knowledge, which also encouraged my decision to become an artist/art educator myself.  I give Mr. Loso a great amount of gratitude for teaching me most of what I know today about clay and firing. 



Raku originated in Japan about 400 years ago and was discovered somewhat by accident.  One account tells how a Japanese potter and Korean tile maker while in their haste to create ceramic roofing tiles would take clay slabs out of a hot kiln to cool faster, finding that the tiles somehow did not break.  In the traditional Japanese firing process, the fired Raku piece is removed from the hot kiln and put directly into water or allowed to cool in the open air. 

Raku techniques have been adopted and modified by contemporary potters worldwide.  American style raku has blossomed and evolved over the past 60 years and uses a reduction process along with glazes rich in metals which can produce a wide variety of interesting effects. 


Instead of simply removing the pieces from the kiln and letting them cool, pots are placed into an airtight container of sawdust and newspaper, then allowed to smoke (reduce) for a period of 15 minutes or more.  While in this oxygen starved reduction atmosphere, the glazed areas are changing in color and the raw clay areas become blackened from the smoke.

After reduction, the pots are removed once again and sprayed with a cold mist of water to clean them up and cool down.  The Raku pieces you’ll find on this site are all hand-thrown and decorated with a variety of glazes and slips. 

The results are always exciting, and sometimes frustrating as the pieces may not always survive this rigorous process.

Outside the Lines Art Gallery • Connie Twining & Stormy Mochal, Owners
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