This is our raku kiln which is fueled by propane. It’s on high heat and pieces inside are nearing maturity.
To gain an understanding of the raku firing process, some basics will be covered here. Exactly what does firing process mean? It is the application of heat until the clay or glaze reaches maturity. In the case of raku firing, it is the maturity of the glaze that’s the goal.
This raku wall mirror illustrates the maturity of the glossy raku glaze used on it.
I’m wearing a cotton scarf to protect my hair, welder’s goggles for peering into the kiln, long sleeved clothing and gloves.
Equipment I use in raku firing: kiln, long tongs to grasp the red-hot pieces, heavy gloves, long pants and long sleeved shirt 100% cotton, hair covering, various sizes of galvanized trash cans with lids, and eye protection (we use welder’s goggles) for looking into the kiln as it fires.
All of my raku art pieces are fired twice. The first firing, called ‘bisque’ is done in this electric kiln which is fired to approximately the same temperature as the raku firing.
Large hand formed oval wall piece (approx. 27″H X 13 1/2″ W) has just been bisque fired in our electric kiln and is now ready to be glazed.
While my indoor booth is outfitted with an exhaust fan, it is still a safety factor to wear a good respirator while spray glazing.
Thanks to husband and biz partner, Robert Leuallen, I am most fortunate to have this indoor spray booth for glazing!
The glazed oval wall piece is placed carefully in the raku kiln. Now, the lid may be dropped and temperatures brought up slowly.
Raku firing has begun and the interior of the raku kiln is getting hot.
The oval wall piece is reaching maturity at which point the lid to the kiln will be lifted and the wall piece will be removed with tongs and placed in the barrel with combustibles (we use newspaper and sawdust).
Combustion has begun following putting the oval wall piece in the barrel. At the ‘height of the burn’, the lid is put on the barrel and time is allowed for the piece to cool. After 20-30 minutes, the piece is removed to view its final coloration for the first time!
Following being fired, the oval wall piece displays its final beautiful iridescent, metallic coloration!