[Just Raku] May 2007 #47 Open Air Raku 



The Newsletter for Raku Artists and Raku Art Lovers


May 2007

Issue #46

Published by

Gary R. Ferguson – Raku Artist



In This Issue

* While the Smoke Clears – Poll was a Success, Finally

* Open Air Raku?

* High Alkaline Frits

* I Raku the Body Electric

* The Perfect Setup

* Sun Fired Raku?

* Raku Links

* Workshops


* While the Smoke Clears *

First of all I want to thank everyone that took the time to

complete the New Products Poll. Despite the technical

issues that I ran into with my database, I think it was a

real success. I really appreciated all the feedback

provided in the Bonus Questions answers as well. There

were lots of good questions and ideas that I will try to

incorporate into future newsletters, reports, and products.

If you have not completed the poll yet, it is still

available for a short time at:


Before you continue on with this month's newsletter please

forward a copy to all your Raku friends and encourage them

to subscribe as well.

And if you received this newsletter from a friend consider

subscribing at www.justraku.com

I would love to continue expanding this Raku "community."


"I must thank you for all the great recipes. I was a bit

stuck for new recipes. I'll be here for thirty years

trying all these out." - Simon D.



* Open Air Raku?

Anne Asked:

I'm trying to find a way to Raku small items, like beads

with a torch and a small reduction can. Do you know of any


Rakuing small items can be a challenge and I've mentioned a

few techniques in prior newsletters and in my books:





I've also used a blowtorch in the post firing process to

alter the colors in a fired piece, which I have covered as

well at:



The problem I can see in trying to use a blowtorch to fire

a small piece is it would be very difficult to get even

heating of the piece. Even with very small pieces the side

of the piece that is being hit with the flame is going to

be much hotter than the side away from the flame. This

will very likely cause the piece to crack or even explode.


"Our class fired again last night, and the instructor

followed your tips and voila. Boy do we have copper. Its

great knowing we can do it, and I really appreciate your

help. Thanks again!"-Shannon P. http://www.rakusecrets.com


* High Alkaline Frits

The following two glazes are from "The Complete Potter" by

Steve Mattison. I'm having trouble knowing which frit to

use. Laguna Clay told me to use 3134 for the alkaline frit

and high alkaline frit, but then I noticed there is also a

borax frit. Thanks for any insight you can provide.

Turquoise Luster 1830F

High alkaline frit 50

Borax frit 20

Copper oxide 4

Bentonite 3

Copper Matte 1740-1830F

Copper oxide 95

Alkaline frit 5

Well, this is what I found at:


This should give you some ideas of Frits to try.

Alkaline Frit

Frit 285

High Alkaline Frits:

Frit 3110

Frit 3230

Frit 3327

Borax Frits

Frit 1047

Frit 2263

Frit 3195

High Borax Frits

Frit 3278

High Boron Frits

Frit 3124

Frit 3134


Books, Music, Videos and that's just the start. Amazon

sells more than books! Help support this newsletter by

using this link: http://www.garyrferguson.com/amazon


* I Raku the Body Electric

Another reader provides feedback on firing Raku using an

electric kiln…

In response to the questions about firing Raku in an

electric kiln, it works just fine. I always turn the kiln

on and get it red-hot (1800 F.) ahead of time, empty, and

get a good charcoal BBQ going next to it, to use for

preheating the glazed pots.

Another thing to think about, with respect to older kilns,

is that when the elements finally do fail, and you can't

redo them (or if someone is getting rid of a dead electric)

it is a simple matter to poke holes in the brick walls, one

or two at the bottom for gas burners, depending on size,

and one on top as a flue.

Place a kiln shelf on a couple of brick pieces, to put your

pots on, and to spread the flames out. A hole saw works

well on the sheet metal, if you run your drill slowly and

you use some oil or wax as a lubricant.

If it was a top-loader, you can turn it on its side first,

to save heat each time it's opened. You don't really want

to get rid of a kiln unless it's literally falling to



After reading Sue's book I discovered dozens of tips,

techniques, and methods of creating Raku beads and jewelry

that I never would have thought of. The hundreds of color

photos are not only instructional but inspiring as well.

There is a new idea to try on almost every page. This book

is a gold mine!" http://www.rakubeadjewelry.com


* The Perfect Set up

A reader emailed me a while back about the "perfect" Raku

setup. She was getting ready to build an area for Rakuing

and wanted to know my thoughts.

Well everyone probably has a different idea of what would

be considered a "perfect" setup. Usually there is a

financial influence on what we can do for our setup, but if

money were no object, I would have the following setup:

First I would have a computer controlled electric kiln for

bisque firing. I think it is much easier to bisque fire in

an electric kiln than any other kind.

Now for the Raku glaze firing, I would want two gas kilns

that had lids that could be operated by a single person (so

I can Raku solo). Why two kilns? Well with two kilns I

could have one load firing while the second is being

unloaded, cooled, and reloaded. It would allow for much

higher production than using a single kiln.

Finally I would want one or two dozen reduction chambers of

various sizes including a sand pit. Why so many? Well, I

find I get better results if the reduction chamber is just

slightly large than the piece. Also I want to always have

a prepared and cooled reduction chamber available to

receive a hot piece.

Now if money were really no object, I would want an extra

large electric kiln and a really large gas kiln. This

would allow me to make much larger pieces than I can today.

Currently I'm limited pieces no larger than about 17 inches

due to the size of my kilns. I would love to have the

kilns to support firing much larges pieces.

Well that would be my wish...


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* Sun Fired Raku?

In a prior Just Raku issue I address the possible impact of

Raku on the topic of Global Warming.


Well one reader had some feedback on this topic and even an

idea for firing using the sun. The idea would take some

development, but it is an interesting idea none the less...

Firing pottery, especially stoneware, does indeed put a lot

of carbon into the atmosphere. Sooner or later, in

contemplating the "greenhouse effect", we will all have to

come to terms with our habits, and modify our firing

methods accordingly.

Electric kilns will still be viable of course, if the power

derives from wind, solar, or hydroelectric sources.

However, the sterility of neutral kiln atmospheres leaves a

lot to be desired.

I propose that Raku will be an increasingly exciting

alternative, and work should begin now thinking of ways to

harness the sun's energy directly, to generate flameless

heat for firing. A good way to do this might be to make a

focusable stretched Mylar concave mirror (something like

this was actually demonstrated on Myth Busters a while

back) that could track the sun across the sky, and

concentrate its reflected heat into a small open-sided,

box-shaped kiln, made of zirconia brick. After a bisque

pot is given a suitable pre-heat, it should only take

moments inside such a kiln to melt the average Raku glaze.

The kiln would also have to be gradually moved, to stay

within range of the focused beam of sunlight. Clay

bodies will need to be formulated to withstand the thermal

shock, which will be quite a bit greater than what occurs

in present-day Raku methods.


"It's all your fault! I was up all night reading "Raku

Secrets". I have been Rakuing for about ten years, and

still so much to learn. Your Raku Secrets gave me a lot of

new insight. Thanks so much". - Elaine S.



* Click Away *

Raku Glazes http://www.rakuglazes.com

Raku Secrets http://www.rakusecrets.com

Raku Beads http://www.rakubeadjewelry.com

Got Raku? http://www.cafepress.com/gotraku

Just Raku Archive http://www.JustRaku.com

Just Raku Blog http://justraku.blogspot.com

Hypnotic Auctions http://www.hypnoticauctions.com


Books, Music, Videos and that's just the start. Amazon

sells more than books! Help support this newsletter by

using this link: http://www.garyrferguson.com/amazon


* Workshops and Seminars

June 2007: 'La Magie du Tour', Ottignies, Belgium.

Info: www.lamagiedutour.com

For more information in regards to these workshops

please contact WALLY ASSELBERGHS at corneel51@yahoo.com or


If you have a workshop coming up, let me know.


Learn the secrets to creating eBay auctions that get more

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As always, I look forward to your feedback, suggestions,

questions, and article ideas at: editor@garyrferguson.com


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