one of my favorite days of the year: raku day!

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Usually about once a year, I get the amazing opportunity to participate in a raku firing with some members of my ceramic community.  I love anytime I get to fire my work and open the kiln to see the finished pieces, but raku is a completely different and very exciting process!

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Raku firings are a special type of ceramic firing where the fired raku piece is removed from the kiln while still glowing hot.  I love seeing pieces at this stage, because it isn’t typically something you get to see up close and personal.  The pieces glow orange and fiery, the glaze bubbly.

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After the piece is removed, it is placed in a container (we used trash cans) filled with combustible material (we used newspaper) in order to get really neat effects on the surface of the wares.

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The whole process can be a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it – some of my favorite pieces have been fired this way!  To top it all off, we head to a beautiful piece of land up north of Santa Rosa in northern California, and I just love being there in the hills with the amazing trees and creatures.

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Between the raku and the fresh air (when away from the firing…), it is definitely one of my favorite days of the year!

Oh, and there are puppies!

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Below are a few more snaps from the day this past weekend.  Enjoy!

Xox.

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bay area hikes: huckleberry preserve.

We love hiking, so we’re lucky that there are so many great hikes around the Bay Area!  We’re still working on checking out as many as possible, and I thought it might be fun to showcase some of our favorites here!

Quick Tip:  We use Bay Area Hiker to find great hikes in the area.  It maps them out and gives directions to the start of the trail, as well as some tips for each hike.  It is really a great resource!

We recently went to Huckleberry Preserve to do a quick morning hike.  It’s been hot here in the last few weeks (by hot, I’m only talking ~85 degrees Fahrenheit, but to be fair, it’s usually only in the 70s this time of the year!) so we tried to beat the sun a bit.

Huckleberry Preserve has a short trail of about 2 miles and takes about an hour to complete (although we spent some time bird-watching by the huckleberry bushes!).  It’s fairly easy with only a few short climbs.  There are many different plants including manzanita trees, various berry bushes, beautiful ferns, and lots of poison oak (be careful!).

Here are a few snaps from the hike:

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a peek down the trail.

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a wasp checking out some thistles.

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always love the texture & colors of tree bark.

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a forest floor covered in ferns. (fun fact: did you know that ferns are among the oldest living organisms on earth?!)

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a pop of color.

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bird watching.

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and the huckleberries!

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beautiful lichen.

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never forget to look up!

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delicious!

If you visit this trail at the end of summer or early autumn, you might be lucky enough to find a few huckleberries to snack on.  Remember to make sure you can identify them correctly, though!  I’ve also heard that the spring is wonderful, too, with many wildflowers and new blooms.

We ended the morning at the farmer’s market where they had amazing pomegranates.  They’re definitely one of my favorite fruits.  But that means summer is really coming to a close, doesn’t it?

Have you been to the Huckleberry Preserve?  Or do you know of any other great hikes in the Bay Area?  We’d love to hear about your favorites!