I buy my Raku beads from Artist Amy Mealey of Xaz beads. Each element is handmade in Montana. Raku generally refers to a type of low-firing process that was inspired by traditional Japanese raku firing. Western-style raku usually involves removing pottery from the kiln while at bright red heat and placing it into containers with combustible materials. Once the materials ignite, the containers are closed. This produces an intense reduction atmosphere which affects the colors in glazes and clay bodies. The drastic thermal shock also produces cracking—known as crackling since it is deliberate. The original Japanese style of raku is an outgrowth from Buddhist influences in life and especially in the tea ceremony.