I attended the 2014 Raku party for the first time on the advice of a friend. My friend and her daughter have attended these parties for four years in a row and she couldn’t say enough good things about the event – including how much she loved her Raku pieces and how gorgeous they all turned out. I thought I would try it and bought tickets for my two daughters and me at a cost of $65 each. Our scheduled time was for the 5 p.m. slot.

We novices arrived eager to make some lovely pieces to bring home and show off. The staff was helpful enough and got us to the right place. While we were there, we thought it was lovely that Pewabic had snacks and beverages, however, the snacks had been well picked over and not replenished. The pita bread had been carelessly torn into small pieces and thrown in a bowl. None of us were impressed.

Upon arrival in the pottery selection room, we were hard pressed to find a piece we liked. Again, everything looked picked over. Nevertheless, we made a selection from the slim pickings and made our way upstairs to the area where we could apply our glazes. While we all realized that we arrived somewhat late in the day, we did not expect to have so little from which to select.

Again, the staff was helpful enough, but they appeared rushed/tired and since we had never done pottery of any sort before, a little more help and advice on how to maximize our Raku experience would have been nice. As it was, we were told what glazes were what and told how to apply them. No demonstrations, no advice, and not much information on how the glazes would look once fired and what we might or might not expect upon their completion from the firing process. Again, all instruction we received was at rapid fire speed. Fortunately, we are all pretty used to doing crafts and needlework, so it wasn’t that difficult to figure out. I just felt that we were being pushed through the “system” so to speak.

Once that was done, of course, we understood that we had to wait. No problems there. The drying/ curing process was well explained so we retired to the pizza and beer tent to await the outcome of our first Raku creation.

We were excited to see our finished product arise from the flames . . . until we saw them. None of them turned out even close to what we had imagined (and again, I have to admit I wasn’t quite sure what to imagine). My pot which I thought was going to look iridescent with some white design on it looked more like a crispy critter. One of my daughters hoped for blue and I’m not sure what color to call it. My other daughter was the happiest as hers turned out a golden color, but she used the green glaze. (I’ve attached photos.)

We did not feel like we were valued customers. We all felt rushed and frustrated. My pot is on display in an out of the way corner. Not sure where my daughters put theirs.

I’m not a pottery or Raku expert or aficionado for that matter. I just thought it would be fun to try something new and have a little gem as a remembrance for the three of us. I will tell you that I came home a Googled what Raku pieces should have looked like. They didn’t look anything like what we brought home. Unfortunate. When I requested a refund for this experience (denied),the interim director told me that signs were posted saying that Raku was an experiment. My friend and her daughter do not recall seeing those signs nor do my daughters or I.
We will not be back for another Pewabic Raku party. If you feel you need to do this event, go early and don’t expect too much.