This tutorial was created using our line of Raku glazes, painted onto on our exclusive line of Bisque Bead Blanks™.

Also used in this tutorial is the convenient Raku Firing Kit, which was developed by Tonya Davidson and sold exclusively here at Whole Lotta Whimsy. It is perfect for the techniques described in this tutorial and will survive hundreds of firings (the bars are high-fire nichrome and the supporting posts and beams are made of magnesium alumina silicate). The supporting beams are notched to hold the nichrome bars; the convenience of this quickly becomes evident when you are grabbing the rods out of the hot kiln or replacing them - it allows you to spend the minimum amount of time with your kiln door open.

Please Note: Any Raku firing technique involves taking items out of a very hot kiln (1700° F) and placing them into combustible material which will catch fire. This optional technique adds the additional element of spraying highly flamable alcohol onto the hot beads. All of these steps should be taken with the proper care and preparation. You perform this technique at your own risk! Remember to wear proper eye protection (didydiums or welding glasses) and hot glass gloves.

 

Step 1

Glaze the Bisque Bead Blanks™ or bisque with the Raku glazes using a brush. You should use dedicated brushes allocated for glazes only. Do not use your PMC brushes!

 

Step 2

Clean any dried glaze out of the hole in the bead using a clay cleanup tool, or other small implement.

 

Step 3

Apply PMC. Shown in the picture is the use of a PMC3 syringe. Using PMC3 will give you better results.

 

Step 4

After firing up to 1700° F for 10 minutes, remove the beads from the kiln using big tweezers and very quickly, before it cools down, spray with Isopropyl Alcohol (92%). Make sure you are well back and do not lean over the beads. As you see from the picture the fireball created by the alcohol can be intense and dangerous.

This is an optional step to get more color halos on copper glazes only. It is not necessary on other glazes.

 

Step 5

Drop the hot beads, still on their nichrome rod, into the reduction pot. Because beads do not retain an immense amount of heat, use combustibles that are easily flammable: paper towels, magazine pages, newspaper, sawdust, leaves, pine needles, etc.

 

The pictured reduction environment consists of:

  • Small aluminum bin
  • Sand to keep items from thermal shocking
  • Stainless steel pot
  • Oven-proof casserole dish for lid
 

Step 6

The comsumables will ignite. Make sure the pieces are well covered with consumables and there is a good fire going around the piece.

 

Step 7

Cover the pot to starve the fire of oxygen. The piece should be allowed to sit until the fire is completely out and smoldering. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Optionally you can burp the container 1 minute after extinquishing the fire.

 

Step 8

Quench or spritz the pieces with water (to set the colors) and scrub them clean. A stainless steel brush is pictured here scrubbing the burnt material off of the piece.