A tomte (Sweden) or nisse (Norway and Denmark) is a mythological creature from Scandinavian folklore – today typically associated with the winter solstice and the Christmas season. It is generally described as being no taller than three feet, having a long white beard, and wearing a conical or knit cap in red or some other bright color. They often have an appearance somewhat similar to that of a garden gnome.
According to tradition, the tomte / nisse lives in the houses and barns of the farmstead, and secretly act as their guardian. If treated well, they protect the family and animals from evil and misfortune, and may also aid the chores and farm work. However, they are known to be short tempered, especially when offended. Once insulted, they will usually play tricks, steal items and even mess with livestock. They love porridge with butter.
RAKU – a process by which pottery is fired at a relatively low temperature (about 1800°F)and then moved while hot to a closed container with combustible materials (as paper or sawdust) that ignite and the fire and smoke react with the glaze to create very unique and unpredictable colors, lusters, and patterns.in the pottery’s surface. Originally developed in 16th century Korea, and traditionally used in the Japanese Tea Ceremony, most often in the form of tea bowls, Raku in Ameri
ca has adapted the technique to many forms of pottery and sculpture.
Most Raku ware is not fired to vitrification – where clay turns into a glass like substance. Because of this, it is more fragile than regular pottery and the clay remains porous (water may seep through it). The glazes and chemicals used to decorate the piece may be prone to leach and this means these pieces are not intended to hold food. Raku should not be left for extended periods of time in direct sunlight – this may cause the colors to fade. If you want to use as a vase for flowers please place a glass container inside first. Hand washing is recommended.
Pieces labeled “Water-Tight Raku” have Raku glazes and techniques applied to fully vitrified clay, and are therefore more suitable for vases.
Pit Firing is the oldest known method for the firing of pottery. Ancient peoples used these pots for cooking, storage of water, grains, and all kinds of materials, as well as sculptures and religious figures.
Pieces are formed (wheel thrown or hand built) and burnished to a satiny smooth finish. They are unglazed and fired at lower temperatures than most other pottery.
Pots are then nestled together in a pit in the ground with combustible materials such as wood shavings, leaves, sawdust, straw and dried manure. The top of the pit is then layered with larger pieces of wood and covered with metal baffles. The filled pit is then set on fire and minerals and salts are tossed into the flames. Then the fire is carefully tended until most of the inner fuel has been consumed. At around 1,500-2,000°F, the maximum temperatures are moderate compared to other techniques used for pottery. After cooling, pots are removed and cleaned to reveal patterns and colors left by ash and salt deposits. Pots may sometimes
be waxed and buffed to create a smooth glossy finish.
Pit fired pottery is unglazed and fired to a low temperature, therefore it is porous and not watertight. The colors developed on Pit Fired pottery are not fused in a glass, as they are in a glaze. In many ways these pots should be thought of as a painting created by fire and smoke. Their color could fade if placed in direct sunlight for long periods. Hand washing is recommended.