All fired-up making animals in Aylesbury Vale

Richard Ballantyne
Richard Ballantyne

STEEPLE Claydon is probably not the first place that you associate with Japanese ceramics – but Richard Ballantyne has been producing raku pots and sculptures there for years.

The 62 year old’s work is displayed in a number of galleries across the country.

Boswell steeple claydon

Boswell steeple claydon

He is best known for his animal sculptures, particularly specialist black and white chickens or hares.

Ballantyne’s work uses the Raku technique – meaning ‘enjoyment’ in Japanese.

It is a process in which the pots are fired to just over 1,000 degrees and then while they are red hot are placed in a closed container and covered in sawdust.

The smoke, lack of air and the rapid cooling produce beautiful effects on the surface of the pots, including crackled glazes and iridescent patches of colour.

The results are very unpredictable but that is part of the allure of the technique, says Richard.

His unique ceramics have been sold across the UK.

He will be opening his doors during June’s Bucks Open Studios.

The annual two-week event allows enthusiasts to come and meet the county’s top artists and watch them in action.

For details, visit