When I lived in Wiltshire I signed up for a raku course which was cut short after only one week. This sparked (sorry about the pun) my desire to make raku pottery and I treasure the bowls I glazed and fired that evening.
I have procrastinated for a long time about making a raku kiln, and decided against it but when I walked into Aldi and saw garden incinerator bins I seemed to slip one into my trolley : )
Caroline Dewison has a great article on the Art Elements blog about building a raku kiln. Thank you Caroline 🙂
Armed with ceramic buttons, fibre blanket, nichrome wire and the incinerator we set to making a raku kiln. After some cutting and drilling this is what we ended up with.
I had some pots already glazed, this is how the firing process went.
I could fit in 2 small pots
We lit the burner, but the flame kept going out when we put the lid on, what you don’t want is to turn your kiln into a potential bomb so it’s really important to make sure it’s lit. We called a halt to the process and put a few holes through the fibre blanked at the base so oxygen could get in and tried again. This time it worked, I waited patiently, and kept checking to see how it was going, it took about 45 minutes to get to orange but I think it should have gone hotter so I will have to invest in a pyrometer.
The burner was turned off, wearing all the safety gear and looking like a spaceman the pots were carefully lifted out with long tongs and put in a metal bucket containing combustibles, (sorry no photos). After it had burned for a few minutes a lid was put onto the bucket, once cool enough the pots were transferred to another empty bucket with a lid to cool some more before going into the water bucket to finish cooling and then they were scrubbed up to reveal the colours.
The pot on the left should be turquoise and copper but I don’t think it got hot enough. I love the dark blue glaze, there is some copper there but also some lovely purples too.
I fired up again for the green pot, but just as the kiln was coming up to temperature my gas bottle ran out so it went into the bucket thinking it wouldn’t come out very well. It turned out not too bad at all.
2 pots have found a place around my home. I love the wabi sabi look of raku pots, this one does have a crack unfortunately, but it’s very tactile, not bad for a first attempt flying solo.The green pot has found a home too, it has a tiny bit of copper in the bottom, but what I like most about this pot is it bears evidence of it’s birth, there are black speckles are were the sawdust touched the glaze, and the orange markings are probably where the newspaper was.I have learned a few things along the way, and I need to trim off some of the excess fibre blanket and when I get some more gas, a pyrometer and some fine weather I’ll be ready for another go at raku firing.