Open fire

During the open studios last week I did a couple of raku demonstrations using my homemade dustbin kiln and I had some lovely visitors to witness the process. Thank you to Hilary Firth from Starglazing for taking most of the following photographs…

Kiln heating up nicely, using a probe to keep an eye on the temperature.

Once the kiln reaches temperature and the glaze has matured,
the lid is removed and red hot pieces are removed with tongs.

Red hot pieces are placed into a reduction (smoking) chamber lined with sawdust.
The lid is put on and the chamber is left until it has cooled.

A blackened piece after being removed from the reduction chamber.

The blackened pieces are then scrubbed under water.

The best of the bunch with some great copper flashing.

The transformation the urchins undergo is fascinating to me. These blackened lumps are removed and are scrubbed until they reveal their true selves, just like treasure from a wreck being brought to the surface, cleaned and discovered,

Someone mentioned to me a while ago that I should try using less sawdust for the reduction and this advice worked a treat. In fact the results were the best ever. I’ve been trying to replicate one particular piece that I fired during my course at Gray’s and this was the first time I’ve managed that. So, after five raku firings I am by no means an expert, but progress is definitely being made.


15 thoughts on “Open fire

      • Yes I’m starting to look upon the studio as my natural home. I thought that last night as I stumbled back and forth across the garden in the dark (must sort out a light!) – It was quite soothing to pop in after a fairly stressful weekend. I hope it stays that way when the weather gets colder! Cheers 🙂

  1. Very interesting post to a non-ceramics person. The photo taken straight over the kiln must have been a rather ‘hot’ shot. The finished glazing looks beautiful with greens moving to hints of bluer tones. I hope your audience appreciated your work.

    • Thank you Agnes… yes it can get quite warm. I usually fire at night when it’s cooler and the smoke is less likely to annoy neighbours, but both demonstration days were beautiful and sunny which made it very enjoyable. The leather gauntlets and long tongs are vital as when you remove the pieces from the kiln they are at +950˚C. I’m glad you like the colours.

  2. You make it all look so effortless Juliet, we do a raku firing once a year with the pottery students and I find the whole thing very hot and smoky and a wee bit stressful if I’m honest! Your results are quite beautiful though and I have to agree with you about revealing the treasure beneath the dirt…..definitely the best bit!

    • Thanks Jo. I’m not sure about the effortless, but I was glad to have done a test run earlier in the week. Also I think it’s different when you’re firing your own work rather than someone else’s. I find that much more stressful as I’m always worried that something will break.

    • Great to hear from you Row – thanks. Hope all is well with you. Yes, it’s been a busy few months, but really satisfying too. So relieved to have the house pretty much finished (still lots of painting to be done) and hoping to fit in one more show/fair before Christmas if at all possible,

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