How to Build a Portable Raku Kiln

Written by kay hammer
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Raku is a type of pottery that is fired at a low temperature and is therefore a bit porous. Raku ware was invented by Japanese potters in the mid 16th century as a way to fire tea bowls for the Japanese tea ceremony. Today, Raku pottery is made by potters in many different countries and is popular due to it's expressive colours and unique finishes. Having your own portable Raku kiln can allow you the flexibility and enjoyment of making Raku pottery on your own and sharing the enjoyment with your peers.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Metal dustbin
  • 1 or 2 inch thick Ceramic Fiber Blanket
  • Propane tank
  • Burner
  • Drill and bits
  • Safety glasses
  • Tin snips
  • High fire clay
  • High temperature wire
  • Kiln shelf
  • 2 bricks

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Make 25-30 clay buttons using your high fire clay and high temperature wire. These will connect your Ceramic Fiber Blanket to your dustbin. The buttons should be small discs 1.5 inches in diameter with a small tab on the back with a hole in it. It will look like a shaft button instead of a pass-through button. Fire the buttons and when finished run 3 to 4 inches of high temperature wire through the hole in the back of each button.

  2. 2

    Cut two holes in your dustbin. Cut one hole 4 inches in diameter near the centre of the dustbin lid. This is your flue. Cut your second hole 5 inches in diameter. 3 inches above the bottom of your dustbin. This hole needs to be large enough for your burner to fit through so adjust accordingly. Use your drill and tin snips to cut holes.

  3. 3

    Cut Ceramic Fiber Blanket to cover entire inside of dustbin and lid with Ceramic Fiber Blanket. Measure the circumference of your dustbin. Roll Ceramic Fiber Blanket onto work bench or flat surface. Cut Ceramic Fiber Blanket 2 inches longer than circumference to allow for slight overlap. Place bottom of dustbin on rolled out Ceramic Fiber Blanket. Draw around dustbin to get pattern. Cut two pieces of Ceramic Fiber Blanket to line bottom of dustbin. Place lid on rolled out Ceramic Fiber Blanket and draw around. Cut one pice of Ceramic Fiber Blanket to line the lid.

  4. 4

    Punch small holes in dustbin. This is where you will thread the buttons through to attach Ceramic Fiber Blanket to the dustbin. An easy way is make seven sets of two holes around the bottom of the can and seven sets of two holes around the top directly across from each other and evenly spaced. Make six sets of two holes around the middle of the can evenly spaced in between the holes you just punched. Punch two sets of two holes in the bottom of the can and three sets of two holes in the lid.

  5. 5

    Place Ceramic Fiber Blanket inside dustbin and attach using your clay buttons. Punch the high fire wire that is attached to the back of the button through the Ceramic Fiber Blanket and through the holes you punched in the dustbin. Twist the wires together neatly on the outside of the can.

  6. 6

    Cut away the section of Ceramic Fiber Blanket that is covering the two holes you cut into the dustbin and lid.

  7. 7

    Assemble Raku kiln. Place burner through hole at the bottom of kiln. Attach burner to propane tank. Build shelf by placing two bricks on either side of burner and kiln shelf on top of bricks. Carefully place pottery that you intend to fire in kiln on top of shelf. Put lid on dustbin.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear safety glasses when operating drill and cutting metal. Use extreme caution when running your Raku kiln. Always where safety goggles and fire-resistant gloves when operating the Raku kiln. Only use outdoors and away from highly flammable substances and debris.

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