I'm thrilled to be a new member of the AJE team! When I was asked to join I thought to myself, "Hmmm what could I write about?". As it turns out, I was doing my first raku firing of the year over the weekend and figured you might like a peak at the process.
Not only was this my first raku firing of the year, it's my first time using the new gas kiln! Colin (my husband) and I had some problems when we first tried it out on Saturday. We couldn't get the kiln up to 1880 degrees. It kept falling short at 1600 and we weren't sure what the problem was. That night, I went online and did some research and realized we were plugging up holes we thought were peep holes but were actually for ventilation...OOPS!
We gave it another try on Sunday and had wonderful results. Here is what the set-up looks like...
All the white bricks help keep it super toasty-roasty inside. You'll notice two pointy things in the back, those are cones and are designed to curl over when the desired temperature is reached. With raku, it's really a combination of watching the cones AND watching the glaze on the beads.
Here's the kiln all fired up and working properly!
Once the kiln reaches the desired temperature we turn the gas off, remove the lid and place the bead rack inside a reduction chamber (aka. small garbage can) filled with shredded newspaper. The paper bursts into flames and the lid is shut. The fire needs oxygen to keep going and so it begins to pull it directly from the glaze causing "magic" to happen.
We're going to experiment further this Saturday and I'll be certain to post the results! Oh, and you want to know what will happen with these beads? Well they'll be available for sale at my booth at Bead Fest this August in Philly. I hope you'll come visit.