Russell Mott

Russell Mott is a 7
1 year old potter living in Las Cruces, New Mexico. He came to pottery late, only some six years ago, and has had the extraordinary good fortune of apprenticing with Claude Smith III, Steve Hemingway, Dave Porter, and Alex Williams.He usually starts work at 3 to 4 AM and works 10 to 14 hours a day in the studio.  Happily, there is no part of the process, from throwing to glazing, which he does not find enjoyable.  While he does some pit fire and stoneware pieces, it is naked and traditional raku which he finds most fascinating and rewarding, and it is in that area where most of his energy is spent.

The majority of his pottery and ceramics revolves around raku and naked raku, and there is no aspect of the process which he does not enjoy.
 He will admit, however, that his favorite chapter is post fire torching: which is like painting with fire.

Canyon Road Pottery, Santa Fe, NM
River Gallery, Ipswich, MA
Pots-A-Lot Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Hang Up Gallery, Neenah, WI

Definition of Raku
- Borrowing from Russell Mott's friend Steve Branfman‘s description: “…raku may be described as a low fire potting technique in which pieces are placed in a pre-heated kiln (usually about 500 degrees F) and brought up to temperature very quickly (usually, in about 20 minutes).  When the glaze has matured, the pieces are removed from the kiln with steel tongs and either cooled in a bucket of water, or cooled more slowly in the open air, or placed in a barrel of combustible material, covered, and allowed to smoke for a period of time.  Steve Branfman, RAKU, Krause, 2001.
The Raku Firing Process - Each raku pot is lifted from the kiln at about 1850 degrees F and placed in a sand box.  They are then showered with strips of newsprint to re-oxidize them in the open air.  As the flames engulfed the pot, they are covered with a metal container and the container is pushed into the sand cutting off the oxygen.  Then it stands undisturbed for about 10 to 12 minutes.  The container is pushed over, exposing the pot to the open air once again.  Immediately the glaze began to ‘bloom’, and as that takes place, the piece is sprayed with water to ‘freeze’ the various colors.  Naked raku firing has several steps, and the end result is a decorative raku fired ceramic piece with an unusual surface treatment. The work is hand thrown and bisque fired as normal.  Parts or all of the bisque-fired piece are then covered first with a slip and then with a glaze.  At that point, free hand etching of an image is done through the glaze with a needle tool. The piece is then low fired in the raku kiln, and at just over 1400 degrees F, the piece is lifted from the kiln and placed in a metal trash can, on the bottom of which are strips of newsprint and some sawdust.  The heat of the piece sets the newsprint and sawdust aflame, and immediately the can is closed.  After several minutes the piece is removed from the trash can and washed.  During the washing cycle, the glaze chips off leaving the etched image, which has now turned black from the smoking process, visible on the surface.  Thus the name "Naked Raku", as the piece loses it's glaze during that final chapter.  Please NOTE: Raku pieces should be considered primarily decorative. They are fragile and not waterproof.