Tuesday 11 May 2010

How to Tuesday! Build your own raku pottery kiln with artysmarty!

You might be surprised to know that before the creation of the artysmarty shop I had a passionate love affair with ceramics...it lasted for many years but ceramics became very needy and was high maintenance, started taking over my house, that kind of thing. I pretty much had to ask it to leave. We're back together now and we're working on a new relationship that isn't so demanding. So here we go, a tutorial on how to make your own raku kiln for extreme pottery!

The 'frame' for my kiln is a standard incinerator bin which was bought from a hardware shop and is about 70 litres volume. The gas burner that I bought heats up to 2.5 - 3 cubic feet which is about right for this bin when lined. I purchased a kiln starter kit from Castree Kilns in the UK who offer all the materials required for a bin of this size. If you're getting materials separately this is what you will need;

Ceramic Fibre Blanket (128KG/m³ and 1260°C grade), a gas burner, rigidiser, kiln batt, kiln props, ceramic buttons, nichrome wire, raku tongs, pair of gauntlets, pair of goggles and a protective apron.

The first step was to cut out the hole for the gas burner and drill in holes for threading the ceramic buttons and wire through. The dimension of the gas burner hole should be smaller than the flue in the lid, in this case roughly 10-12cm. The hole for the burner should be as close to the base as possible, just above the level of the lining on the inside of the kiln.
The lid of the bin that I bought already came with a flue. There was a tube of metal extending out of the flue hole which I removed to leave just the opening hole. The handle was also built into the lid. It's probably a good idea to add a handle on the other side of the lid for safety.

Next step is to line the interior of the bin and the lid with the ceramic fibre and thread through the buttons to hold the fibre in place. We drilled one hole for each button and held them tightly in place with a washer. The lid should have double lining for insulation and should fit tightly onto the bin.

The interior of the bin should be lined to make sure none of the heat can escape, so overlap the fiber at any of the join lines. The lining at the bottom of the bin should also be tucked under the lining used around the circumference. The buttons should be used evenly throughout the interior. They will keep the fiber in the right place and should kind of look like a couch. Once the lining is complete you will need to paint the top rim of the bin where it meets the lid and also in the inside of the bin lid with the rigidiser. This stops the lining getting damaged when the lid rests on the top.

The completed kiln here with the three props placed in the bottom of the kiln ready for the batt and pottery to sit on. It took two of us half a day to assemble it. Next part is the fun stuff.....firing it up without setting the shed on fire!
Ta daaaa! Isn't it beautiful? If you want some updates as to the results of the firing or what to take a look at some of the other stuff I do, checkout out the 'tutorials' page of my own site http://www.artysmartyshop.com/

Best of luck with it, Angela!


  1. Now we're all dying to know if you set the shed on fire or not, and if there are pics of the ignition phase. Good lord, my inner pyromaniac is emerging ...!

  2. Ah yes, appeals to all fire-bugs! Will do a follow up with some of the results!

  3. Wow! What a cool tutorial! You are one talented lady!

    Thanks for sharing!