Firing Raku Pottery

Firing Raku Pottery is one of the easiest and most satisfying ways to fire pottery using a very simple Raku kiln. Check out the video below to see the different parts of the process and some pots on fire. Yes, that's supposed to happen!

Making Raku pottery is easier than firing pottery in a kiln the traditional way. One difference from regular pottery is that it does require specific Raku glazes and Raku clay. These are specially formulated to achieve the shimmery, crackly glaze effects that you see in Raku firings.

The Raku kiln is just a simple gas fired kiln, usually with an easily removable lid that can be lifted off when the pots are ready. Once the pottery is fired to red hot it is removed from the kiln with tongs and placed into a metal garbage can with combustible materials like newspaper or leaves and left to smolder.

Once it has cooled, the Raku glazed pottery is scrubbed with water.
The fun part about firing pottery with Raku is that you get to see the pots when they are red hot and you get to watch them set the materials on fire. So there is a lot of smoke and flame, which is the essence of pottery making.


Quick Overview of Firing Raku Pottery

  1. Create pottery on the wheel or by hand
  2. Dry pottery fully and bisque fire
  3. Glaze pottery using Raku glazes (be sure NOT to glaze the bottom)
  4. Heat pots to red hot in a gas kiln specifically designed for Raku firing (many potters make these kilns themselves since they are so simple to build)
  5. Using tongues and fireproof gloves remove the red hot pots from the kiln and place them into a metal garbage can with combustible material (shredded newspaper or leaves are common choices)
  6. Sprinkle more combustible material on top of the pots and cover with a lid so the pots can smolder (this is how the carbon builds up in the glazed surfaces of the pot)
  7. Remove the pots once they've cooled and scrub them thoroughly with water and a green dish scrubbing pad to remove excess carbon.
  8. Enjoy your beautiful new decorative Raku pottery!

Food Safety Note: One important thing to keep in mind is that Raku fired pottery is not water tight or food safe. The thermal shock that the pots undergo when they are rapidly removed from the kiln creates a lot of cracks in the Raku glaze as well as in the clay itself. For this reason these pots are for decorative use only.

I hope you've enjoy this introduction to firing Raku pottery. For more fun ideas on Alternative Kilns and Firing, check out the book below available at Amazon.

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