As the weathers getting warmer and the nights are getting lighter, I’m thinking about Raku firing again.
A couple of years ago, I decided that opening my electric kiln at 1000oC was far too scary, it’s a top loader with a hinged lid which means you have to get pretty close to the heat to swing the lid open.
So I decided to build my own raku kiln. After some research I found the materials I needed, ordered most of it on line and took a trip to IKEA for the firing chamber.
Here’s what I used…
The box is full of ceramic fibre blanket (nasty stuff, so don’t breathe in the fibres, or let it touch you skin, you will itch for days!) There are also ceramic buttons, nichrome wire and a gas burner.
First, the bin was cut to make a hole for the burner and a hole for the top…
I did this with the metal cutting disc on my dremel drill.
Then the inside was lined with the ceramic fibre blanket. I wore a mask, gloves, and long sleeves for this part!
The blanket was wrapped over the top of the lip to make a tight seal when the lid is on. The lid was also lined with the blanket.
I had already prepared some simple buttons with clay and bisque fired them. I used wire through the button holes and drilled through the bin to poke the wires through to hold the blanket in place.
Once all of this was assembled, I needed something to stand everything on. For this, I took an old kiln shelf, measured the inner diameter of the kiln and cut a circle using a stone cutting wheel to fit.
The shelf stands on kiln bricks and the gas burner is angled through the front hole to heat below the bricks.
I use a digital pyrometer poked through the side to measure the temperature, and can get up to around 1000oc in about 25 minutes. It works really well!
To remove the lid and the beads from inside, I have a long pair of Raku tongs, so I don’t need to get more than a couple of feet away to work with it!
Here are some of the beads I’ve made using my home made kiln…
Now all I need is the weather to cheer up and I can start firing raku again!