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From Pure Science to Pure Pottery

Posted on July 29, 2015 by Sue Hayes | 0 comments

Jack Olive grew up in Thunder Bay, Ontario. After obtaining a degree in Chemistry and Mathematics from Mooorhead State College in Minnesota he spent 3 years working as a biochemist at the University Of Oregan Medical School. But a strong creative gene began to override a love of pure science and so Jack returned to Moorhead to work on a degree in ceramics and graphics.


In 1971 Jack moved to Vancouver to become a founding member and director of the Vancouver Clayworks Society; a 12 member cooperative ceramics studio.


In this hugely creative atmosphere Jack worked with other members of the group to develop methods of applying graphic images i.e. photography, drawing and painting to clay. His style of work ranges from abstract geometric to wildlife painting and drawing. Currently Jacks pottery images include Pears, Salmon, Orcas, Ravens, Apples and Crows. These images are incorporated into a large range of functional pottery items from Jugs to Mugs Casseroles , Bowls, Plates, Tea Pots, Pitchers and more...


Jack has recently explored the techniques and possibilities of Raku. This example uses “naked Raku” techniques, which result in a pot that is white with a black line image. A dry pot is covered with terra sigliata (liquid clay), fired once to bisque temperature, and then covered with a high-fire clay slip and a low fire glaze, through which he etches the design.


The Raku firing process requires a special Raku kiln that is fueled by propane and reaches temperatures of about 1800°F (about 982°C).


The piece is then fired to Raku temperatures, and placed into the smoking chamber. When the piece is cooled, he peels off the slip and glaze to reveal the black line on the white background. The resulting pots have a lighter, more textured quality than his traditional stoneware.


In order to complete the firing process, the Raku pottery must remain in the kiln for approximately 30 minutes. The Raku pottery is removed from the kiln using specially designed Raku tongs.


While the Raku pottery piece is still hot and glowing, it is placed inside a metal can full of combustible materials. The heat emitted from the Raku pottery causes these materials to catch on fire. After the materials inside the metal can catch on fire, a lid is placed over the can and the Raku pottery is sealed inside.

The Raku pottery is capable of withstanding these high temperatures and the fire within the can because it is made from a special type of clay that is capable of withstanding thermal shock.


Jack now lives and works in Gibsons on the beautiful B.C. Sunshine Coast but you can see lots of Jack’s magnificent creative work – both Raku and Stoneware at





Posted in bowls, Canadian Gifts, casseroles, cream & sugar set, dishes, jack olive pottery, jugs, local crafts, mugs, oak bay, plates, pottery, raku, salad bowls, shaving skuttle, shop local, tea pots, wedding gifts



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