What equipment do I need for Raku?
When I first moved to Cornwall and set up my own Raku ceramics studio in 2009, I was working from a small shed in my garden and getting my pieces bisque fired at a local pottery. I was on a very tight budget so I had to start with the minimum amount of equipment needed.
Raku Kiln Basics
The main thing I needed, apart from outside space, was a raku kiln. I had made my own kilns in the past so was excited to make a small and portable kiln from a metal dustbin (trashcan for my American friends!). These are easy to come by and I got a friend to cut a small hole, around 4 inches square, in the top of the lid and on the side of the dustbin.
I bought a big roll of ceramic fibre and lined the kiln. For more details follow the link to the post I wrote about How I Built My Raku Kiln >>>
The next thing I needed was a raku gas burner. I have tried several over the years, but still prefer my fairly basic gas burner, that’s looking a little worn out now!
For safety it is important to have long metal tongs, to remove the lid from the kiln and also for taking the red hot pots out of the kiln. There are different types of tongs, but if you are making fairly small work and are just starting out, a pair of small metal tongs with prongs are ideal.
You will need heat resistant gloves which will protect you from the ambient heat when using tongs to lift your pieces from the hot Raku kiln. (There are specialist heatproof gloves if your ceramics are too large or heavy to be lifted using tongs, but these are quite expensive and not necessary if you are just starting out). It is always best to use a mask and goggles to protect yourself from the fumes and smoke, there are various types available. I recommend a good quality respirator with interchangeable filter and Grade 3 welders goggles.
Finally you will also need a metal dustbin for reducing your pieces in sawdust (or another combustible material) and a metal bucket for dunking your ceramics in water to cool once they are removed from the sawdust. Once they have cooled you can use normal household cleaning sponges to clean up your ceramics and reveal the wonderful Raku glaze effects!