My Work

Nancy                            Signature                             Ready to immerse

About My Work

I'm working with Laguna's white stoneware and raku clay bodies for my raku pottery work.

Hopefully, with a purchase of a new highfire kiln, I will resume working in Stoneware.

But for now I'm totally involved with the raku firing process because it is quick (less propane used) and the spectrum of color from this is unmatched by other firing processes.

It is the most exciting and dramatic way to fire for such quick results.

For those of you who have wondered if I tape off my designs, wax my patterns, scrape off the sprayed on glazes, now is your chance to see my free-hand glaze applications using a sable "liner" brush, a steady hand and the right glaze consistency...oh, and plenty of time and patience, to get that "fine line" for certain designs. Those patterns that some of my pieces just have to have...

Soon you will be able to check in and watch the piece from the glaze process to the actual firing.

The firing temperatures for raku is 1600 F to 1800 F, and is mostly fired without a pyrometer, or ceramic cones, as it is the artists experience to visually know when those desired temperatures are achieved in the kiln.

Raku is a pottery firing technique dating back to 16th century Japan.

All my work is hand thrown on the potters wheel, hand built or constructed from slabs of clay. When the pieces have dried completely they are loaded into my kiln for a first fire to remove all moisture and prepare the clay pieces for the glazing. The decorated pieces are fired again to 1800 F within a hour, and when the desired melting of the glazes have been achieved they are immediately removed from the kiln at a red glow with special raku tongs (this is the exciting part) and quickly placed into a metal container filled with organic materials, leaves, pine needles, sawdust or paper, quickly covered to smoke and cool.

The natural un-glazed clay will become black from the smoking environment. The glazed areas, when quick cooled, will have the desirable crackle effect and/or look of lusters to the glaze.

I hope this century will bring a renewed energy of self-exploration in the arts.

Thank you for your interest in Raku and please visit my website often to see additions of my work.

Because of the fast firing process, raku is very porous and is not appropriate for storing water or food, is for decorative use, and should be handled with care. Raku pieces should be cleaned using a damp cloth.

Since raku pieces are very fragile they should be shipped in double boxes (a box within a box) with packing material in each box, this has been proven to be very reliable.

Included with purchase, I will ship for free to any town in the USA via UPS.

"The magic of creation, when the results of your efforts turns into something new, the unpredictable is so much better than the initial plan. An upward movement initiated in time can counteract fate. The work inspires more work."

"This was an actual e-conversation Nov. 07, from Sheila (after she purchased one of my pieces) about her interest in Raku"

Sheila asked:

      1. What clay body do you use? It seems smoother than a lot of work I've seen.

      2. The glaze is really satiny, not dry and not really shiny. Is it one glaze or a combination?, Is it a glaze recipe listed on your website?

      3. Some people indicated that the satin might come from firing to a slightly lower temperature than to get the really shiny glazes, Was it?

      4. Also, the glaze seems to stand up and have thickness along each edge. Is that just glaze thickness or some other technique?

      5. Do you give lessons or workshops?

      We did get to the Raku show at AMOCA. Loved your work there too.


      Sheila Foster

Dear Sheila,

Thank you for being a Raku lover, and your kind words supporting my work. You have purchased one of my favorite pieces.

The glazes I use are from a base glaze that is listed on my site. It is the standard 80-20 (parts). The 80 % Gerstley Borate (is the original Borate from the 70's that I still have from my studio in Cucamonga...I have a nice supply, (good thing because it's mined out). the 20% is usually Potash Feldspar.

To get that clear crackle in my base glaze I have found through trial and error that using 10 Potash and 10 ceramic grade Borax to the 80 Gerstley Borate will make a nice shiny clear that reacts to the smoky environment to produce the crackle effect.

I am using only Laguna's White Stoneware WC-397. It fires so white, and only gives me trouble with cracks when I make the larger platter or plates, and that's from the thermal shock of out of kiln at temperature and into the reduction chamber not quickly enough.

Because the clay body is so smooth (like porcelain) I am still learning to slow down the throwing and fan the piece as I pull it up into shape. Large pieces are slow going.

Over the years of using the same basic glazes (and many notes taken), I have realized that all things work together through trial and error. First the balance of the naked clay shape, the glaze choice and application, and in some cases (depending on the glaze) where the piece sits in the fire chamber for the flame to react with the copper red flashes to turning the piece for even firing necessary, and how long to fire. I have found that being able to "peek" into the kiln at various spots is very important for my type of glazing.

It is true that if you over fire any ceramic piece at any given temperature you will increase the chances that the semi matte glaze will flux more and become more shiny. It can also cause glazes to run together (in my case). Some Raku potters rely on that for their desired effects. I add my colorants (coppers, iron, manganese, cobalt, etc.) to my base glazes in small %'s keeping good records along the way, and the glazes are adjusted as I go.

The control of glaze application is as important as the glaze. For these glazes and most others at all temperatures if you apply a thin coat of glaze it will be drier, and a thick application will yield heavy well saturated pool effects (considering matt or glossy glazes is a factor too).

Some have questioned my applications and graphic designs as being "too busy, hard edged or cold" and that's OK with me. I just can't help my love of maybe having some control of the smooth flowing glaze lines that few potters who are using the raku firing process can do. All my designs are applied free hand to the bisque. No tape, wax, stencil spray and scrape etc....just free hand with my liner brush.

I average 4 to 5 hours per piece normally. Some of my potter friends think that's too much time spent per piece. Sometimes its worth it. But they still had me do a demo. This is just my personal style of a glaze application I love to use when I'm firing in the Raku method.

If you have any other questions about my process, or have friends interested in stopping in for a workshop, or one on one instruction, please let me know. I will do my best to simplify.

Thank-you again for your interest.

Nancy Pené

Artist Statement

Over the past 30 plus years of attempting the magic of creation using clay, my serious attraction and main focus has evolved to the Raku firing process. My discoveries firing with post reduction, and my efforts in making pieces with a fresh look, the unpredicted surprises have been so much better than the initial plan.

With much trial and error over the years, in life, and in the studio, I have found the quick firing of Raku with it's dramatic post fire conclusion is what holds my interest to date. The challenge for me now is the search to develop lasting details and memorable Raku glazes that will endure the test of time.

To further explore my personal vision of the Raku process, I have been exploring the use of "old school" glazing using a liner sable brush. My glaze applications do not involve wax, tape, stencils, spray, or scratch techniques, just a steady hand and lots of patience to float my glazes to the bisque.

As a result of my efforts over the years, it has been wonderful to have my Stoneware and Raku works in private and corporate collections all over the US and in Europe.

Nancy Pené

Current Year
(Click on highlited words below and visit those sites)


Ninth Annual Vasefinder National -


American Museum of Ceramic Art Ceramic Biennial 2013.


Thanks to the Los Angeles Talent Magazine for their August 1, 2011 article.  

Ceramic Services A Day in the Clay Ceramics Festival.

Saturday, November 5, 2011 from 10:00 am – 3:00 pm, FREE

McGroarty Arts Center Annual Ceramics Exhibition and Benefit. "Variations of Fire"

Opening Reception: Saturday, June 11, 2011 from 5:00 – 9:00 pm, FREE

Sixth Annual Vasefinder National -

500 Raku, Lark Books (500 Raku Series)

Fifth Annual Vasefinder National -

"RAKU workshop with Nancy Pené at:  Ceramic Services, Ontario, CA. Oct. 24th 2009

"Best Alternative Firing Award" - AMOCA and ACS-DC" Diversity in Clay 2009"  American Museum of Ceramic Art  Aug. 8 - Aug. 29th 2009

"Language of Life" Nancy Pené's  raku and   Jenik Cook's  abstract paintings at the   Creative Arts Center Gallery  , Burbank Calif. "Ink and Clay 35" W. Keith and Janet Kellogg University Art Gallery, Cal Poly Pomona, CA

Fourth Annual Vasefinder National -

Ceramic Services Raku Workshop - Nov. 15th featuring glaze application demo and the Raku firing process by Nancy Pene and hosted by Lenny Larson of Ceramic Services, Ontario, Ca.

27th Annual Village Venture Arts & Crafts Faire - October 25, 2008

Ashes to Art Scattered (Art Honors Life) The Gallery at FUNERIA - Graton, Ca.

ACS-DC Diversity in Clay, AMOCA, Pomona, Ca.

ACS-DC Presidents Show 08, Burbank Creative Arts Center Gallery, Burbank, Ca. (second place)

Ceramic Services Open House Workshop featuring Steve Davis, Cybell Rowe, Eric Stuck, John Toki, Lenny Larson, Don Reitz, Nancy Pene, Karen Silton, Ontario, Ca.

"Raku Origins, Impact and Contemporary Expression," AMOCA, Pomona, Ca. AMOCA gallery sales, Pomona, Ca.
Village Venture, Claremont, Ca.

Moved studio to Upland, Ca.
Village Venture, Claremont, Ca.

Raku works featured at the "Raku" in Claremont, Ca.
Village Venture, Claremont, Ca

Personal Studio, Devore, Ca.

Personal Studio, Lytle Creek, Ca.
Developed personal web-site

Hub Distribution Ontario, Ca.

Designed, built, and maintained Studio and Workshop in Rancho Cucamonga, Ca.
Built Raku and Stoneware up-draft kilns at various locations in Southern California
Conducted and attended classes and workshops (too many to list) by various artists specializing in Raku and functional stoneware production.

"Art in All Media," Del Mar, Ca.

Shimpo Wheel Ad (inside cover Ceramics Monthly Sept. 76 issue)
Kemper Tool Ad (CM)
"Designer Craftsman 76," Richmond Art Center, Richmond, Ca.

"American Art Investments Raku Invitational," San Francisco Design Center, San Francisco, Ca.
One Woman Show Raku," Westwood Ceramic Supply, City of Industry, Ca. (now Laguna Clay)

"Ink and Clay Exhibition," Kellogg Art Gallery, California State Polytechnic University (Cal Poly), Pomona, Ca.

"13th Annual Purchase Prize Competition", Riverside Art Museum, Riverside, Ca.

Wignall Museum Gallery, Alta Loma, Ca.

Chaffey College, Alta Loma, Ca.

My Kilns

Propane Tank

Here is my propane tank and regulator, thanks to Amerigas of Riverside for the tank lease and great service! Attached to the regulator is 25ft metal (plastic coated) gas pipe set in a 1 1/2 ft deep trench in the ground, leading to the kiln's split regulator to get the propane to the 2 kilns",   It has to be legal

Bisque / Raku kilns

"backyard kiln area"

Bisque / Raku kilns

"where the regulator splits out to both the kilns. I have fired both at the same time without any delay in time reaching my temperatures. In fact they are firing for a few dollars of propane per 1 hour session...I do a bisque in aprox. 2 1/2 hours unless it's a kiln load of sculpture, then it's slow going."

Raku Kiln

"because Lenny's kilns keep you from burning out, I can use "ove'gloves" and really get the "feel" of the neck of the bottle using the tongs and how much pressure to use when I lift out the piece quick to get it to the reduction chamber without breaking off the neck".


"nice to have a snug fitting lid for your reduction container, and in just a few minutes the smoke is like starting your biggie"

Kilns by Ceramic Services

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