Vrbanec Ceramics is twenty years old family business which was revealed in Mačkovec (North part of Croatia). Through years, Ivanka and Dražen Vrbanec developed the path which they decided to lead – unique souvenirs where every piece is handmade created. From standard techniques of producing the ceramic products, they use technique where they become masters – RAKU.

“This is traditional company where we are trying to keep up with time in design and at the same time to hold on with traditional basics. We will always try to keep distance from commercial souvenirs and cheap materials because after all this is unique company (maybe only in Europe) where tradition is formed trough innovative and rare firing technique and where respecting the tradition means to follow traditional margins and accept new products from present.”

What is RAKU?

Raku is a pottery technique that has it’s origins in 16th century Japan. We are pretty sure that it was developed by Korean potters under Japanese rule but the exact circumstances of it’s development and in what context it was discovered is a mystery. The raku technique, like other pottery techniques such as salt glazing and pit firing, primarily revolves around it’s firing process although involvement with raku often goes much deeper into its philosophy, roots, and cultural significance. Traditional raku and our western version of raku are similar in many ways though there are some significant differences.

To briefly describe the raku process we must understand that most all other types of pottery are loaded into a cold kiln where the firing proceeds slowly until the desired temperature is reached. This firing cycle may take anywhere from 8-24 hours or even longer. When the kiln has reached temperature (which is generally determined through the use of pyrometric cones), it is shut off and allowed to cool enough to be able to remove the ware using bare, or lightly gloved hands. The cooling cycle may last from 12-24 hours or longer. The ware is considered finished when it is taken from the kiln. In raku, the pieces may be loaded into a cold kiln but are often preheated and loaded into a hot kiln. The firing proceeds at a rapid pace with the wares reaching temperature in as short a cycle as 15-20 minutes (though raku firings can last up to several hours depending on the individual pieces and their firing requirements). Glaze maturity is judged by the trained eye without the use of cones or measuring devices. When the firing is determined to be completed the wares are immediately removed from the kiln. Since at this point the glaze is molten, tongs or other lifting devices are used.

This is the stage in the process where traditional and contemporary raku differ in technique and treatment. In our western version the wares are now treated to a ‘post firing reduction’ phase. The wares are put into a container with combustible material such as sawdust, or leaves and allowed to smoke for a predetermined length of time. The carbonaceous atmosphere reacts and affects the glazes and clay and imparts unique effects and surfaces to the wares. Some of these effects are metallic and crackled glazes surfaces and black unglazed clay. When the wares have cooled, they are washed with an abrasive cleaner to remove all residue of soot and ash.

real people. real progress.

Just amazing. 🙂


Husband still can’t believe this is from ceramic. Crazy effects. I still don’t know how you do it.

Sonie Lamthog

Apples are perfect, wish you had store somewhere in America. Thank you!


Great ideas for amazing surprise! I love it.

Jenna Simmons