Loring Cheney’s fabulous sculptures are whimsical and expressive. She makes her work with raku. Traditionally this was a Japanese technique in which a potter would take a pot from a red hot kiln with tongs and allow it to cool quickly, producing a fine crackle in the glaze that would darken with use and age. The more contemporary, “Americanized” version of raku is to remove the piece from the hot kiln, and then drop it into a barrel of a combustible material like sawdust, straw, or shredded newspaper, which immediately ignites and smokes. A lid is placed on the barrel and the work is allowed to smolder as the carbon from the combustion infuses into the clay. Many glazes are formulated for this purpose, often creating colorful flashing and iridescent qualities, or crackling and allowing the carbon to penetrate the exposed clay, creating a web of dark crackle lines.