Raku Explorations

A Visit to John  Dodero

I have been playing with raku again.  This is some of the work I fired during the last month.  I visited Oregon a couple of months ago and had an opportunity to visit the studio of John Dodero in Jacksonville (you can see his work online).   It is unusual to find a production potter who does exciting raku ceramic art.  He makes a piece on the wheel and then uses this piece to create a plaster mold.  Slip-casting allows him to do production raku work which he sells wholesale.  

I was fascinated to see his studio set-up, work process, and his work.  I purchased a beautiful and very unusual Shino piece from him – unfortunately, it did not survive the shipping.  The featured piece on this post was inspired by his work.  Two of the photos below show different views of the same piece…

New Directions for Raku

Now that I am back in Sedona, Arizona, I have been experimenting with both wax resist and tape masking on raku pieces.  with was resist it is difficult to remove all the glaze from the resist, and with the tape, it is a challenge to get fluid lines and the uniform thickness of the lines is less natural looking.  I continue to ponder this challenge. 

The incorporation of wood and rock into my raku work presents interesting possibilities.  I am considering incorporating semi-precious stones and/or crystals.  The use of desert dried wood or cactus skeletons also is of interest.  The featured piece uses manzanita from our yard.

I like the stable and colorful glazes of raku.  They allow me to effectively use the masking technique for glaze application demonstrated on some these pieces.   I continue to ponder the possibility to similar results with mid and high fire glazes.  This would result in functional and durable pieces.


Shino Glaze

An Exploration of Shino Glaze

Wax Resist on Shino GlazeShino glaze was first developed in Japan in the latter half of the sixteenth century.  A Shino can go white, cream, orange, brown and black (even on a single piece).  The use of this glaze is quite tricky.  Many factors in the formulation, application, and firing of this glaze affect the final result.  Shino glazes can produce very disappointing results and are prone to glaze faults such as crazing and crawling.  However, with careful control of numerous variables, stunning results are possible.  To further cloud the issue pieces treated in the same manner and fired at the same time in the same kiln can produce remarkably different results.

Mug with Shino Glaze by Luke Metz in Sedona, ArizoanAt Coconino Community College under the tutelage of Don Fethkenher, we did an in-depth exploration of Shino glazes.  We lived and breathed Shino for a month.  Five of us made hundreds of pieces and tested these with different glaze formulations and different treatments and methods of application.  We tried putting different Shino glazes over each other.  We tried applying various chemicals over the glaze.  We tried different methods of drying the ware once the glaze was applied.  The list is much more extensive than mentioned here.

Soup Tureen with Ladle and Base glazed with Shino Glaze by Luke Metz in Sedona, ArizoanHaving spent a semester studying this glaze, I feel I know Shino a lot better.  As an analogy: I no longer feel like I am in kindergarten but am far from being an expert.

All the photos in this post are glazed with Shino (other glazes may be overlapped) and were made in June of 2016 (summer semester).  As you can see, quite a variety of results are possible from Shino.  The pieces shown in this post were selected from about 70 pieces I personally made.

Shino Glaze tumbler with Wood AshLeopard Spot Shino (so called because of the dark spots) is particularly elusive and those who know its secret guard it carefully!  The large image at the beginning of this post illustrates this glase.  Carbon trapping (carbon is trapped in the glaze during firing) is essential for this particular result and is what causes the black areas.  I am pleased to show an example of Leopard Spot Shino (no, I will not kiss and tell).

In addition to carbon trapping, the Shino glaze can under the proper conditions take on an opalescence that can be quite stunning.  I have included a picture Luke_Metz_shino_opalescenceof this occurrence; unfortunately, the opalescence does not show well in the photograph.  The piece has a beautiful metallic sheen.






Spring 2016

This pit fire piece by Luke Metz is named "Ancient Dancer"
Ancient Dancer – pit fire

It’s past time for my quarterly blog post. A little bit of everything has been the name of the game. In addition to cone 10 oxidation and reduction firing, I have done raku, pit fire, and soda fire.

The spring semester at Yavapai College with Tom Schumacher involved a lot of exploration and experimentation. I worked with doing some assemblages of thrown pieces, texturing, and briefly tried shellac resist. I have become very interested in tea pots and Japanese tea bowls – I think I will be playing with these for a quite a while.

"The Line Up" by Luke Metz is a raku piece
The Line Up – Raku

Using both stoneware and porcelain I created a diverse body of work. Trying some new glaze combinations yielded some unexpected results and some of them are exciting.


This porcelain chawan by Luke Metz is soda fired.
Porcelain Chawan – soda fire

I love the subtle patinas of pit fire pieces and it is always a surprise to see the final result.  “Ancient Dancer” (shown above) is multiple thrown pieces and slabs assembled into a work that is about 22 inches tall.

Stoneware kyusu by Luke Metz

My friend and teacher Don Fethkenher allowed me to share in a soda firing in his kiln. This is my second soda firing and I am starting to get a better feel for the technique – it is substantially different than the more traditional oxidation and reduction firings I have been doing. I feel like I am just scratching the surface and look forward to more opportunities to explore this exciting technique. Speaking of Don, I will be studying with him in June at Coconino Community College.

Also coming up shortly is a workshop with Patrick Shia Crabb.

Two new galleries (for me) are showing my work. Zen Mountain Gallery in the intriguing town of Jerome, Arizona (an old mining

Vase With Attitude - Cone 10 Reduction
Vase With Attitude – Cone 10 Reduction

town that hangs off the side of Mingus Mountain) has a very tasteful selection of wonderful art and I feel privileged to be part of this gallery. I have just set up at the Prescott Art Market along the outdoor walk/drive way. This is in an attractive mall in Prescott, Arizona and hopefully will have good traffic (this is a brand new location for the gallery). I am continuing to be part of the Village Gallery of Local Artists in the Village of Oak Creek (Sedona) – I also maintain their website.

Textured Covered Vessel by Luke Metz
Textured Covered Vessel

Much of what I have been doing lately is pushing me out of my box and comfort zone. This includes my ideas for marketing my work. My work this year is growing, shifting and I think getting better. I am excited with some of the results and have many ideas for new directions of play. Although I still appreciate classic forms, I am very interested in playing with more fluid shapes, with altering forms, and with assembling thrown pieces as well as playing with making some hand built functional pieces. I have doing much of my work in college studios so that I can do cone 10 firing and to have more interaction with other artists. I anticipate doing more work this summer in my studio.

Raku Copper Weave by Luke Metz and Wendy Bialek
Collaborative Piece

The collaborative piece I created with Wendy Bialek is complete.  I made the porcelain raku fired base and she did the copper wire weaving.

I am thrilled to report that the variety of things to explore in ceramics has kept me inspired and I still love this medium. On a personal note my wife, Sue, and I have been hiking regularly with friends.

My next update will probably be in August or September. If you are in the area please come visit one of my galleries or contact me to visit my studio. Hope to see you this summer.

Fall 2015

This fall has been extremely busy.  I have been in four different art shows.  In order to attend Coconino Community College in LM_1403b_TeaSetFlagstaff,  Arizona I have been driving about an hour each way.  The instructor, Don Fethkenher, has been an inspiration and I feel that my work is maturing under his tutelage.  I have completed a substantial body of cone 10 reduction pieces and am pleased with the results.  All of the photos of my ceramic art shown in this post are part of this body of work completed this fall in Flagstaff.
With all its beautiful switchbacks Oak Creek Canyon is a daunting drive in the winter (Flagstaff is at 7,200 feet in elevation).  Because of this I will forego attending Coconino Community College this spring and instead will attend Yavapai College in sunny Clarkdale, Arizona (elevation 3,500 feet).  Even though I consider myself a professional, I love learning and attending classes.  Also, I find my fellow students refreshing and inspiring.  I plan to return the Coconino Community College for the summer semester and am looking forward to the excellent quality of instruction that is LM_1425_Rakuprovided there.  I suspect that I may always be a student.

I still love doing raku firing and have included a photo a piece I made in Flagstaff and fired this December at my studio in Sedona.

I had not done much traveling for a while but this fall has been chock full of traveling adventures.  My wife and I took a long weekend to ride the Narrow Gauge Railroad from Silverton, Colorado.  On the way we stayed at the historic La Posada Inn in Winslow, Arizona (remember LM_1406_SidewaysBowlthe song?).  The Turquoise Room in the hotel serves some of the best food in northern Arizona.  Winslow, we will be back!

This fall I did an eight day retreat with Bentinho Massaro at the Mount Madona retreat center.  It was life changing!  My wife and I were also able to spend a weekend in Colorado Springs, Colorado with Bentinho and snuck in a visit to the Turquoise Room on the drive back (one of the best and most fun.
Over Thanksgiving my wife and I visited La Jolla and loved every minute of it.  I have included a few photos from this trip.

Our cat, Roshi, has loved our departures.  Many different friends come by and play with him while we are gone.  He knows he is royalty and thinks he is in Heaven.  He is looking forward to our next adventure (and so are we).  We have no idea when or what this may be…

My son just got his three year coin this fall.  Congratulations son on your continued sobriety.  We are all very proud of you.

That’s about it for now.  Thank you for tuning in.  Happy Holidays!
Luke Metz

Soda and Pit Firing

Soda FireSeptember has been a busy month.  I have been involved with a soda firing and also a pit firing.  Samples from both firings are shown here.

The featured image above is a pit fired piece measuring 12″ high by 16″ wide by 7.5″ deep.  Yes that is a piece of turquoise in the lip.

The members co-op show at the Sedona Arts Center was also in September – it is now over.  I am getting ready for a show in Sedona in November and also the Made in Clarkdale show in December.

Porcelain RakuI have been experimenting with porcelain.  Some of the pit fire pieces I did were made with Coleman Porcerlain (cone 10) as well as some raku pieces.  The raku pieces are a particular challenge given that porcelain is a very closed or dense clay body and tends to crack from the thermal shock generated during the raku process.  Shown in this post is a porcelain raku piece that hopefully will result in a collaborative piece with metal weaving done by Wendy Bialek-Kling.  If we take the project to completion, I will post an image of the final result.

Pit FireSeptember was also the beginning of the fall semester at Coconino Community College.  I continue to work with Don Fethkenher at the college.  Since this involves an hour commute each way, this has kept my schedule quite full.  I hope to include some images from this class in my next post.

Spring and Summer 2015 – Porcelain

"Turquoise Splash"I have been working with porcelain and stoneware at high-fire reduction firing (cone 10).  There has been a lot of learning and a lot of experimentation.  I have been making sectional (multiple thrown pieces joined into one piece) pieces and playing with new glazes.  I have also started playing with raku firing porcelain (at the bottom of this post is a porcelain piece from a recent raku firing).  This is not a clay body that is friendly to raku but it does produce some interesting results.

I am currently making pieces for a soda firing and I am also making functional ware (mugs, bowls…) for the September show at the Sedona Arts Center in Sedona, Arizona.

Stoneware Floor Vase

Currently, I have a substantial inventory and am running a 20% discount on pieces purchased directly from the Pots By Luke studio.  It might be time for some early Christmas shopping.  Contact me for a no obligation viewing.

"Red Drip"

These are some larger pieces.  The top vase is about 19 inches tall, the platter is about 17 inches in diameter. the lower vase is about 22 inches tall and the bottle is about 13 inches tall.

Porcelain Raku by Luke Metz in Sedona, Arizona
Porcelain Raku

I have been in three shows during this period.  The Juried Sedona Arts Center Annual Member Show awarded one of my pieces third prize.  My studio in Sedona was included in the annual SVAC studio tour – about 35 studios participated with over 50 artists.  It rained and was cold the whole weekend of the studio tour, but we still had good attendance.  Two friends and I put together “The Three Amigos Ceramic Exhibition” which was for 4 weeks (from May to early June) at the Corner Gallery in Sedona, Arizona.

The featured piece shown at the top of this post is a reduction fired stoneware bowl.  It was fired to cone 10 and is 12.5 inches in diameter.

Bottom line is that it has been an exciting and busy time.


January 2015

I will be returning to class at Yavapai College where I can fire to Cone 10.  This supplements the raku firing I do at my studio.  I am working on some glazes and if I perfect them, I will include some of the high-fire work on this site.

Luke_Metz_Coffee_PotI have a piece of my art on display at the Small Works Exhibition at the Sedona Arts Center at 15 Art Barn Road, Sedona, AZ 86336.

This month I am also designing and implementing this website.  I anticipate this activity to continue for a while.  And, of course, the maintenance of a website is an ongoing endeavor.

We had a big snow (for Sedona) that started on New Year’s Eve and continued into the new year.  I measured 9 inches of wet snow on our patio.  The photo shows a non-traditional view of Coffee Pot rock in Sedona.

December 2014

Luke_Metz_Flamingo December was a month of recovering from the push to get ready for four art shows.  I have done some raku firing but mostly taking it easy and getting organized.  It seems to be useful for me to occasionally step back from my art.

My wife and I took a short vacation to La Jolla and Coronado in California over Christmas.  We Luke_Metz_Jonathanhad lots of fun and good food.  The San Diego Zoo was “zooey” with attendance at 22,000 as compared to normal weekday attendance of about 3,000.  The drop in gas prices was a blessing.

Of course, we are always happy to get back to Sedona, Arizona.

Quotes I Really Like

Quotes I Really Like

Photo above  is of Mooji

“Water has no shape, its nature is to flow. If you put it into a vase it will take the shape of the vase. In this cup, it has assumed the shape of the cup. If poured into my cupped hands it will take the shape of the hands. But water has no shape. It is the same with the consciousness, which is subtler than water. It similarly has no form, but it assumes the form of whatever concept it is poured into or identifies with, but it will never be the form.  It remains ever its formless nature.”

“Ever since happiness heard your name,
it has been running through the streets trying to find you.”

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present”
Lao Tzu

Byron Katie
Byron Katie

“You are so hypnotized by yourself that you probably think you’re real.”
Byron Katie

“Everyone is my teacher.
Some I seek.
Some I attract because of what I must learn.
You might be unaware of what you teach me.
I bow deeply to you in my gratitude for what you have taught me.”
Neeshia Jasmara

“It is often the case that whatever we are doing, be it sitting, walking, standing, or lying, the mind is frequently disengaged from the immediate reality and is instead absorbed in compulsive conceptualization about the future or past. While we are walking, we think about arriving, and when we arrive, we think about leaving. When we are eating, we think about the dishes and as we do the dishes, we think about watching television.

This is a weird way to run a mind. We are not connected with the present situation, but we are always thinking about something else. Too often we are consumed with anxiety and cravings, regrets about the past and anticipation for the future, completely missing the crisp simplicity of the moment.”
B. Alan Wallac

it’s all over now…

stop trying to tell the world what it is
and what it should be
it is nothing

stop trying to battle the circumstances
and to make them what you think you want
they are nothing

stop remembering
stop wanting things
time is nothing

stop glorifying your image
stop defending it
you are nothing

stop believing your thoughts
stop looking to the circumstances
for validation
you made it up
you made it all up
your thoughts are nothing

rejoice in not knowing
release all fear
and discover wisdom

lay down
your self-conceived burden
just for a moment

let limitless and conditionless
love and joy
fill you
for no reason
your reason need no longer confine you
nor guide you
you are free
(you always have been)
see what remains…
Luke Metz


















Ceramic Art by Luke Metz