Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Tyler G

Raku Proposal For School

Recommended Posts

Tyler G    0

I have an old electric kiln, standard classroom size (8-10 cubit feet?), that I am planning to convert to a raku kiln.

 

I have a spot behind a large brick wall next to the building and the maintenance dept approved the spot and said they have pavers they can put down beneath the kiln. 

 

I am looking for advice on the best place to find plans for building the kiln. In the past I used a very simple kiln with a hole cut out and a burner placed next to it that was attached to a gas grill style propane tank. I was planning to do something similar but I am open to options.

 

I am not sure what type of burner is best or where to purchase, and have heard of some using a weed burner. Any advice or resources would be appreciated as I am to compile a detailed list of what I need to buy for the project.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
neilestrick    1,381

I see way too many raku kilns that I don't consider to be safe in a school. It's one thing to be firing your own work in your own studio, but when other people are involved, especially kids, safety is the number one concern. I would use a burner that has a baso valve safety shutoff, and it should be mounted to the kiln in such a way that it cannot be kicked out of alignment. Call Ward Burner. A weed burner laying on some bricks doesn't cut it IMO. Kids don't look where they're going, so you have to make it all sturdy and safe.

 

The propane tanks should be as far away from the kiln as possible, and chained to a wall or other sturdy structure, even if they're just little grill tanks. The hose should be out of the walking path. Everyone watching the pots being pulled from the kiln should be wearing long pants and closed-toes shoes and safety glasses. I've heard horror stories of pots cracking during pulling and landing on people's legs/feet. I wouldn't let the kids pull anything from the kiln. Anyone assisting you and close to the pots should wear long sleeves and leather gloves, and all their clothes should be natural fibers. No tech fabrics or slick sweat pants. They just melt and fuse to skin. I'm not trying to take the fun out of it, but you are responsible for the safety of those kids. Raku firing would never pass an OSHA inspection, but you've got to make it as safe as possible. One burned kid and you're done.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tyler G    0

Thanks Neil.

 

The firing will take place outside but the kiln will be stored inside when not in use. I appreciate your safety concerns and they are totally valid, that does mean a burner would be better than a weed burner for certain, I will look into Ward Burner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Dick White    155

What Neil said!!! Safety first in a school setting. The more people involved, the more important it becomes that you have your process figured out so everybody remains safe. People will be standing around - in the way of what you need to be doing at that moment. People will dart in for a peek - and get in the way of what you are doing at that moment. People who are needed to do something specific at that moment will be just standing around. Crowd control is paramount.

 

As for the weed burners, those work ok, but a real venturi burner is better. I second the recommendation of Marc Ward at Ward Burner.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rakukuku    122

We do kids raku at our studio and there are rules. The kiln is stationary with a top hat so easy to pull stuff than reaching in. Its connected to natural gas and we keep  a lock on the lever so no one can accidentally turn on the gas. 

 

All the kids have to stand behind a certain line and there is an extra person who stands next to them while the instructor pulls pots. The job of the extra person is to lead the kids back into the building if it gets too smokey.

 

The kids help prepare the cans with paper. I always make sure the cans are covered and no loose paper can blow around during the firing process. keep extra paper in a covered can.

 

I wear a welder's jacket along with my gloves and heavy shoes. The welders jacket is fire retardant, not 100% fire proof but better than some old sweat shirt. I sometimes use a heat mask though it doesn't fit well. 

 

Make sure no paper is hanging out the top of cans.  Always close up kiln as soon as pulling is complete.  Let stuff cool in the can longer than you might otherwise. Have a selection of just a few reliable glazes. 

 

I use a little self standing cone 06 to judge when its done rather than looking at the surface of pieces. It works pretty well if thats your glaze temp. Also sometimes use a pyrometer just so kids can see the temperature. 

 

In our adult raku we require someone be a "spotter" for the time someone is pulling - even if experienced. The spotter just watches the pull to make sure the puller does not fall or encounter difficulty. There is a hose available nearby. 

 

All this has worked so far. The kids stuff gets glazed the week before so its really dried out before being fired. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
rakukuku    122

P.S. kiln should not sit on concrete blocks without a layer of firebrick on top, Concrete never is really without moisture and can explode. make sure there is some air space between kiln and any concrete.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
oldlady    1,323

tyler, a roll of yellow duct tape would be handy to mark a line on the ground that the kids cannot cross.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tyler G    0

Thanks for all the advice (and a couple good laughs!)

 

I will look into the Ward Burner.

 

Anyone have rcommendations on gloves and/or tongs for pulling pots?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
neilestrick    1,381

I like welding gloves. All raku tongs seem to be about the same in my experience, but some of the raku folks might know different.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Mark C.    1,800

I like kevlar gloves but the leather wielding gloves last longer but run hotter when handling work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marcia Selsor    1,301

I think Kevlar gloves are ok. I love my high temp heat resistant gloves for grabbing slabs from the kiln directly. I also have some custom made raku tongs for larger round pieces.

When I taught a workshop in Edina, Mn. they larger part of the group stood on the far side of a sand trough away from the action. Felt very safe.

 

Marcia

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Marcia Selsor    1,301

I second Mark Ward for burners. I asked him to plumb the burners for two tacks each. Each setup has a regulator too. I run them at 4.5 psi. This reduces freezing propane tanks. I have had that set of burners for 10 years.

Marcia

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Pres    896

Tyler,

Years ago, I did raku in the central area of my HS. They had a central court that was used for absolutely nothing. I got permission from the Principal, lined up burn barrels, had the shop make me a couple of pairs of raku tongs, and the shop teacher gave me a pair of old welding gloves and an apron. I had an electric kiln, quite old 120V square kiln with new elements I put in, that would reach 2000F. I ran an electric cord the Maintenance people made for me from an inside wall socket out to the kiln in the court. We fired first thing in the morning til about 2pm, and then did the reduction with sawdust, and planer shavings. Worked to 3 years, and then the district decided to close in the court and have a Central Supply storage/distribution center there. It was lots of fun, kids loved it, and we got lots of PR with the student body. Only problem was the windows facing the court on the next 3 floors had to be closed or get smoke! :o One final thing, always unplug the kiln before opening the lid, as hot air is a conductor of electricity.

 

 

best,

Pres

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tyler,

Years ago, I did raku in the central area of my HS. . I had an electric kiln, quite old 120V square kiln with new elements I put in, that would reach 2000F. One final thing, always unplug the kiln before opening the lid, as hot air is a conductor of electricity.

 

 

best,

Pres

 

 

Unfortunately we now live in a very litigious society; goodness knows sooner or later some onlooker is gonna "try this at home" and get juiced.

 

Of course it won't be ~their~ fault,...as, "So-and-so showed them it's ok..."

 

Gas helps keep lawyers away. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LeeU    328

I had kiln gloves once. Several lovely sets of welder's, heavy leather, kevlar, & other materials for different environments and conditions. Cost a small fortune (onmy budget). Then I went out of state for a week's vacation. When I came back, the big fat rat (& maybe some buddies) that invaded my happy home had destroyed-thoroughly destroyed--all of my gloves (to say nothing of the foam core, the boots, and the etc. etc.) I rakued him and he will not be chewing up my stuff anymore.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Benzine    609

I do a yearly Raku firing with my Art Club students.  It's something to look forward to, at the end of our busy Fall season (Homecoming button design/ production and a Blood Drive we sponsor).  

 

I built my own kiln several years ago, with a trash can and ceramic fiber blanket.  I use a simple weed burner for mine, as that's all it really takes to get it to temperature.  

We fire outside the school, on a large concrete patio area.  I go over safety procedures repeatedly.  The LP tank is as far away as the torch hose allows.  The students unloading and tending to the reduction bins are wearing welding gloves and safety glasses.

 

Someone on these forums posted a method for building your own Raku tongs a few years ago.  I had already purchased mine, when I came across the instructions, or I may have tried to build my own.

Not to say mine don't work well, but the hinge bolt snapped on both of them, with only moderate use.  One of the times, I was going to grab something out of the kiln!  Luckily I had a spare set.  So I've replaced both bolts, with something a bit more dependable.

 

I love the Raku process, and the students really enjoy it as well.  My school hosted our Conference Art Show a couple years ago, and I had a Raku demonstration for an activity.  My students and I made little vases with the initials for the other schools stamped on them.  So each school had something to take home with them.  

The other instructors and students loved it.  

 

The only downside to Raku, it's the gateway process to other alternative firings.  There should be a support group...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Chilly    329

 

The only downside to Raku, it's the gateway process to other alternative firings.  There should be a support group...

 

lol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
neilestrick    1,381

http://www.bigceramicstore.com/olympic-18-raku-kiln.html

 

Does anyone have thoughts on a kiln such as this?

 

Olympic 18 Raku Kiln 

 

That'll work. I like those because they're made of soft brick, not fiber. Much safer for your lungs. Be sure to get the optional ignition system. You don't want to blow up any kids.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×