Antelope Beads Featured Artisan - Jennifer Pottner, Urban Raku

Jennifer PottnerJennifer Pottner is a ceramic artist and owner of Urban Raku. She has lived in Ohio her whole life and currently lives in Mason, Ohio with her husband, 3 teenagers and 5 cats. She has been married for 22 years and has a BA in personnel and her background is in business & sales. She became a stay at home mom when she started her family.

For her 37th birthday she went to celebrate at a casino and won $300 in a slot machine. She took the money and started a business buying and selling gemstone beads. Through art shows and a drive to learn, she self-taught herself about glass and ceramics. She started making lampwork beads but noticed a lack of raku jewelry components in the market so she learned how to make create her own in 2009. First she made raku buttons and went store to store in Cincinnati selling the buttons. It took a while to get her business off the ground mostly because she was always designing new pieces way beyond those first buttons. She love thinking up new jewelry designs that complement the components she makes.

Jennifer deeply feels that since she never had formal training, her body of work is such a gift that is very special and emotional to her. Her pieces are an extension of her being and she hopes others can feel her love of the work through each piece. She has often been approached for offers to resell her work and has always turned it down until now. Antelope Beads is the exclusive Urban Raku Design Ideasonline retailer of her work other than her site. It has been an evolving, amazing journey for Jennifer. Her future aspiration is to expand beyond making components to finished jewelry designs to showcase in higher end art shows.

Now let's dive into the art of making raku components. All pieces are individually handmade then raku fired using traditional 16th century Japanese techniques, which involves fire, and combustible materials which makes each piece unique. Jennifer hand rolls everything and does an initial firing. She then glazes the pieces and fires them again in a kiln at about 1800 degrees Fahrenheit. The pieces are removed from the kiln while they are still red hot, and placed into a metal container with combustible materials, such as newspaper or sawdust. The materials catch fire and a lid is placed very quickly on the container. The fire pulls oxygen from the glaze to keep going and the resulting flames moving across the pieces create the distinctive raku look. This results in beautiful metallic colors and lusters that are unique to each piece and achievable only though this process. The luster glazes are as Jennifer describes them especially frustrating, complicated, dirty, exciting, exhilarating and more! Each raku art pieces requires a 3 day process from start to finish. There are a lot of variables that affect the outcome, which is why it is impossible to duplicate, and all pieces are unique. Some variables include: temperature, thickness of glaze, humidity, how fast the kiln heats up and the combustible materials that are used. Even if she duplicates her steps exactly she never has a consistent outcome. Jennifer loves the challenge that the raku process presents to her, and is equally passionate about the beauty she creates in every piece!

Urban Raku Turquoise CopperJennifer’s personal favorite glazes are Multi Satin and Turquoise Copper. One fun fact is that she doesn’t know of anyone in the United States that uses horsehair in his or her raku jewelry components. Like all of the other glazes and components she makes, her horsehair components are truly one of a kind. To make these, she drops horsehair onto a heated piece. It has to be the perfect temperature for it to work. After the horsehair has burned on she prefers to use a really shiny luster. She discovered that this is a Urban Raku HorsehairNavajo Indian firing technique on pots and vessels. She loves animals so she makes sure her horsehair is ethically obtained. Suppliers give her tail and mane strands saved from their grooming brushes. She also makes pieces using another unique glaze that she calls the reserve collection that creates pieces with at least 4 visible premium colors present. Less than 10% of her work qualifies as a reserve collection piece. Click here to discover all of Jennifer Pottner’s 10 different glazes used to make her beautiful bracelet bars and pendants.

Her work will allow you to create a truly unique work of art of your own to keep or share! We're guessing you won't want to share!

Urban Raku Components