Thursday, June 21, 2012

Gas Kiln: Trials and Tribulations

Hello Bead Friends!

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...
And here's the inside of the kiln...
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!

The kiln is essentially made of wire, fiber blanket and a garbage can lid.  This isn't exactly high tech but it gets the job done.

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.
I typically leave the rack in the chamber for 15-20 minutes before removing it and cooling it with water.  Colin and I are still working on getting great flashing (those pretty blues, purples and reds) but here's a peak at the results from this firing..

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.

Happy Beading!


  1. Thanks for sharing. I had no idea that's how raku was done...just that it involved fire in a can at some point :-)

  2. Like Jen I had no idea how it was done either, what a fascinating process and the results are amazing!! Beautiful beautiful and thanks for sharing! Welcome to our group!

  3. Great post Diana! I'm tickled every time I see raku as I have never fired my beads that way yet, but I'm sure itching to do it. Great assemble of the kiln too.

  4. Thanks for sharing the raku process Diana ... those beads are gorgeous!

  5. thanks for sharing. I have been wanting to try raku and think I have all the ingredients, but am a little afraid to do it.

  6. Thank you ladies! I'm slowly making my way out the door now to go start glazing the next batch.

  7. Loved your post and your kiln Diana ! I have tried raku myself but haven't gotten very good results I guess glass on metal raku is different. Your beads look amazing!

  8. Very cool. I never knew how raku happened. Thanks for sharing.

  9. This was so interesting Diana! I knew that raku involved burning paper, leaves or wood, but I didn't understand, really, how that was accomplished. Thanks for sharing! Your beads turned out gorgeous and I know they will be snapped up at Bead Fest. Just wish I could be there to see it happen.

  10. Very awesome posting Diana! This was very intersting, and the results are beautiiful!

  11. Nice to see pics of the process Diana...I know you've explained it to me but it's so much easier to understand now. Great the beads!!!

  12. Will have to come see your beads in person in august! (You, too.)


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