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Lesson Plans

Re: Do it yourself raku kiln

From: Donald Peters (softsnow)
Date: Thu May 18 2000 - 06:38:48 PDT

  • Next message: Sears, Ellen: "RE: Lesson Plans"

    >ok, how do you make a raku fire kiln?! i've been searching for a practical
    >way to do this on and off for 2 years and have not succeeded yet. please
    >enlighten me.

    I had a ceramics teacher in college who believed in teaching us everything
    about ceramics. I could also build my own gas kiln if I had the time and the

    Here's how he taught us to build a raku kiln:
    Supplies needed:
    (2) Medium metal trash cans
    4-5 Fire bricks
    9-12 cinder blocks
    Weed burner
    Propane tank
    Raku tongs
    6'-10' old kiln element wire or other high temp wire
    Enough fire blanket to line the inside of the trash can (can be purchased
    from most ceramics dealers)
    20-30 "buttons" made from high temp clay
    Tin snips, screwdriver, hammer, scissors

    Cut a hole in the bottom of the trash can about 4-5" radius
    cut a SMALL viewing hole in the side of the trash can
    cut a hole big enough for the weed burner to fit through on top edge of the
    trash can (Note: sometimes it is easiest to have someone with welding
    experience cut these holes for you)

    Measure and cut the fire blanket so that you have a circle the size of the
    bottom of the trash can and a sheet that will fit the inside walls.

    Begin pinning the blanket to the inside of the trash can by punching small
    holes in the side of the trashcan with a screwdriver, then running a loop of
    wire through a clay button and running the wire through the fire blanket and
    the holes in the trashcan so that the button is on the INSIDE of the
    fireblanket and twist wire on outside of trashcan to keep it from coming
    back through. (the clay buttons keep the wire from ripping through the fire
    blanket) Continue this process until you have the blanket firmly attached to
    the inside of the trashcan.

    Cut the fire blanket away from the holes pre-cut in the trashcan

    build a base out of cinder blocks and a small arch to set your pieces on out
    of fire brick (to help circulate heat around the piece)

    Put in your pieces (best to preheat) cover, insert weedburner and fire.
    (note a venturi burner will reach temp quicker if you can afford one)

    Have the second trash can standing by with a combustible material inside it.
    Pull your pieces out when temp is reached and insert into second trash can.
    Let it flame up, then cover tightly

    A couple of notes: I highly recommend a good pair of Asbestos gloves and a
    face shield be worn when working with raku. Also no loose or flowing

    A local ceramic artist makes raku kilns in basically the same way described
    above with two exceptions: 1) he makes a cylinder and a circluar lid out of
    heavy duty fencing wire and attaches the fire blanket to these pieces. This
    makes a removable lid with the kiln staying in place. 2) he uses a large
    metal tray full of sand to set hot pieces in, sprinkles with combustibles
    and then covers with a large metal paint can that he sinks into the sand.

    While we are on the subject of raku, here's something for you to try the
    next time you do raku. Cover your pieces with a white slip before firing.
    Heat in the raku kiln without any glaze. When heated piece is removed from
    kiln, CAREFULLY lay long strands of horse hair on the piece. Creates some
    very interesting effects. This has become quite popular down here since the
    artist mentioned above started doing it about three years ago.

    I hope I explained everything ok. Good luck!

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