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Building a Raku kiln

March 13, 2014 , In: Ceramic Clay, Clay, Studio, Tutorials
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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! 
 
 

Caroline Dewison

Caroline Dewison is a lifelong addict of anything creative. She settled on ceramic beadmaking 3 years ago and can be found most days at the bottom of her garden playing with mud in her studio. She draws her inspiration from the natural world and wishes there were more hours in the day to explore all the ideas in her sketchbook. You can see more of her work on her blog - blueberribeads.co.uk.
  1. Reply

    That copper set of beads is awesome Caroline. Your homebuilt kiln looks great.What fun. I can hardly wait to see what you make.

  2. Reply

    I'm so impressed with you!!

  3. Reply

    I love the look of raku and I'm in love with your bunny bead!!!!! It was fascinating to see how you constructed your kiln. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Reply

    Veru impressive Caroline…is there any tool you don't have to hand? I still have my hare beads :0)

  5. Reply

    That is so cool!!!!!!!!!!!!! Beautiful beads!!

  6. Reply

    Awesome – I made a raku kiln with a friend a few years back but we used wire cage instead of a trash pail. We had a hard time getting it to temp so we eventually resorted to using the reduction gas kiln instead. I may try my hand at it again using your method!

  7. Reply

    Wow, Caroline! I'm super impressed! I've never done anything like this, wouldn't know the first step. You did a fantastic job explaining the process! I always had a very high respect for any work dealing with fire, flames, torches…but now I'm in total awe! The beads you posted from last year are amazing!

  8. Reply

    WOW you are a handy girl!!! I love raku and look forward to seeing what comes from your new kiln.

  9. Reply

    Thank you! I do love being hands on with things, it's really satisfying to create a tool and work with it, I'd do more if I had the means!

  10. Reply

    Wow, thanks for such an informative post, I am nothing like the handy person you are but I might just put hubby onto the job, just wondering what kinds of beads can be fired in this?

  11. Reply

    you mentioned firing chamber. Im new at this and when you mentioned where to add it , my thoughts were "I didn't get how to make one". r" where to buy the firing chamber'? Can u please expound on this? Also how much does it cost to build this kiln? thank you so much for all the info. you put out there. I get so much inspiration from your web site

    • Denise McFadden
    • December 27, 2016
    Reply

    Very impressed with your clear instructions. wonderful beads !
    Caroline as it is the end of 2016 am wondering if you are still creating your beautiful work ?

    • Reply

      Thanks Denise, Hope you can make use of them! I am still making beads and this little kiln is still serving me well 🙂

  12. Pingback: My journey into Raku firing begins. | Kiln Fired Art Blog

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