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Peter Lange's 'Industrial Raku' Kiln.
Article and images by Steven Goldate.

Tunnel raku kilnIt's amazing what a resourceful potter can do with some clay, a pile of bricks and a gas burner. Inspired by industrial processes, Peter Lange built an innovative conveyer belt raku kiln at the recent ClayModern ceramics conference in Gulgong, rural Australia. The idea was ingenious, the construction simple and the effect truly amazing. This despite, or possibly rather because of the ideological opposition of the concepts of industry and raku.

Burner portUsing plain house bricks, Lange built a small tunnel kiln lined with fiber and with a burner port around the middle. The 'conveyer belt' was built from disused kiln elements and was driven by a water powered 'turbine'. The waterwheel consisted of a number of plastic bowls, arranged on an axle and 'powered' by running water from a hose. Conference participants were invited to sculpt any number of figurines from raku clay and send them off on their ten minute journey through the fast fire kiln. Entering the tunnel wet, most came out fired and otherwise unscathed at the other end, falling down a 'chute' into a waiting bucket of water. Most breakages happened when a figurine missed the bucket and fell on the ground.

Waterwheel Waterwheel & chuteTunnel exit

After a couple of days of fun, laughter and spectator awe, production numbers were high and Lange had created his own little terracotta army, waiting for his command.

terracotta armyterracotta army

He proceeded to built a pyramid with a shrine at the top, the little people making their way to their ceramic altar in a determined procession.

Peter Lange building the Raku 'shrine'Building the Raku 'shrine'

Brick boatPeter Lange is a New Zealand potter who taught himself pottery in the 1970s. Initially making domestic ware, he turned his attention to slip-cast trompe-l’oeil sculpture in the mid 1980s, after an inspiring visit to New Zealand by Richard Shaw. Lange gained notoriety in 2002 for building an 'Anagama Boat' (following the motto "if you throw it in the water and it sinks, then it's art... if it floats it's craft"). Intrigued by the resemblance of the interior of an Anagama kiln to an inverted boat, Lange set out to prove that an inverted kiln could float. He has also built a brick 'paper plane', a brick 'bag' and a brick 'cone'. He won Merit awards at the Fletcher Challenge Ceramics Award in 1984 and 1986. Lange is also known for his role as co-director of Auckland Studio Potters.

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