I am a ceramist living and working in Oxfordshire. Many of my pieces are stylised representations of animals such as bears, sheep, birds and fish which I finish using the Japanese Raku firing technique.
I build my pieces by hand with a white clay, which is quite gritty to survive the thermal shocks of the raku firing processes. I biscuit fire my work first in an electric kiln, then glaze the piece with a transparent glaze for the white parts and with coloured glazes made with different oxides.
I then fire the pieces in the raku kiln till about 1000C, before opening the kiln, still at full temperature.
The pieces are allowed to cool briefly in the air, which promotes crazing of the glaze, and are then put in a steel box with saw dust.
Since the box is fairly air tight, the combustion of the saw dust draws oxygen from the clay and produces the black colour in the cracks in the glaze, and in any unglazed parts, which is characteristic of Raku.
I am also a member of the Oxfordshire Craft Guild.