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Tyler G

Raku Proposal For School

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Got the Ward Burner.

Got the kiln ready to go.

Location in middle of quad, with hose and extinguisher on hand.

Stakes and ribbon to mark the boundary.

 

Questions:

I fired with a group once and the nervous/safe/smart people wore this fancy silver jacket thing. Is that something I should get?

I fired with some college students recently and honestly I trust my advanced ceramics class students more than I would some of those college folks and I am considering letting students pull pots if given the right protection.  It's a private school and it's the week after parents weekend so I can talk to the parents, many of whom I know. I do have art dept colleagues who can help pull pots and whatnot but it seems to me that the job of being in charge of the trash can is just as dangerous if not more dangerous.

Do you guys where any type of glasses and mask?

Im looking to buy the last safety equipment stuff ASAP and fire in 2 weeks.

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When I do raku with my college level students, the ones pulling pieces and the ones working a can lid are both wearing a leather welder's jacket over a metalicised Kevlar long apron, leather welder's gloves, leather welder's leg spats (below the apron), leather shoes, and a full face shield over some form of non-flammable hair covering.

I've seen all sorts of raku "horror shows" out there.

I once was on the wrong side of a student raku error myself about 35-40 years ago.  3rd degree burns.  Burn unit a the hospital.... lots of treatments for months.  No fun.

best,

...........................john

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In addition to John's safety advice, be sure you can remove your footwear choice quickly.  Blacksmithing experience speaking, leather shoes are great, but if the hot shard of whatever burns through, it doesn't matter what you're wearing if you can't get your foot out.

Steel toe boots with a loosened tongue and laces removed are my go to for blacksmithing, smelting, and raku.

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I make everyone watching wear safety glasses, just in case a piece should decide to explode or shoot off a shard. The person pulling from the kiln should be fully geared up like John said (I use a fireman's coat, etc.), and everyone helping with the buckets should have long sleeves, pants, closed toe shoes, safety glasses, gloves, etc. Make sure the buckets have cooled enough before opening them or the gasses inside will re-ignite and make a fireball.

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11 hours ago, Tyler G said:

Do you guys where any type of glasses and mask?

Yup on the mask (respirator). Years ago when I did raku I would feel ill from the fumes/smoke when I didn't wear one. Good idea to protect your lungs also.

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20 hours ago, Min said:

Yup on the mask (respirator). Years ago when I did raku I would feel ill from the fumes/smoke when I didn't wear one. Good idea to protect your lungs also.

What kind of respirator? A two cambered mask? Could you post a picture or link to the type you mean?

 

Thanks to John, Tyler and Neil as well, I will stock up on safety stuff. 

Can you give info on where to purchase some of this protective gear? Also John, what do you typically do for the head coverings?

 

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2 hours ago, Tyler G said:

What kind of respirator? A two cambered mask? Could you post a picture or link to the type you mean?

 

Thanks to John, Tyler and Neil as well, I will stock up on safety stuff. 

Can you give info on where to purchase some of this protective gear? Also John, what do you typically do for the head coverings?

 

Harbor Freight and Northern Tool are great places to get inexpensive safety glasses, gloves, etc.

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Tyler G,

For hair coverings ..... non-synthetic fabric (cotton, wool, etc.) baseball cap (brim backward to clear face shield) or a tightly tied 'scarf".  You can also get fireproof welders caps and "head coverings".

We've not used respirators, because we do very "smokeless" post-fire reduction.  All that excessive smoke and flame is dramatic.... but not necessary to get results and is also bad for people in the area and the environment.  Watch my dear friend Steven Branfman do raku at his studio....... almost no smoke at all.  Plopping a dozen pieces or so all in a big garbage can half filled with combustibles is not the way to go.

If you feel the need for respirators, I'd says a HEPA filter stacked on a chemical one.  Likely well more than one 'threat' in that smoke.

There are lots of "safety equipment" companies.  Any welder's supply can get you most everything you need.

 

Here's the type of leather coats we use (stocked in multiple sizes):  https://weldingsupply.com/cgi-bin/einstein.pl?PNUM::1:UNDEF:X:30WC-L

best,

..........................john

 

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If you do smokeless then great and obviously that would be the way to go. I think it was the fumes from the copper that made me so sick, still can’t take the smell of raku without it triggering a nauseous feeling. Used sand beds and wet blankets over the bins, perhaps some people are just more sensitive. To the original question, if you are going to use one I would just use the same respirator you would use for mixing glazes, a P100 like this one.

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8 hours ago, neilestrick said:

If you put down a bed of sand, and put the can down over it, the sand will seal the edge and limit the amount of smoke that comes out.

Can you help me understand this a bit better.  Are you saying that instead of using a lid on a trashcan your flipping the can upside down onto a bed of sand? How do you get the combustables in?

 

I'm also very interested in the relatively smokeless way. Are there any good resources or videos you guys would recommend for raku practices? I have done it many times but never in a way that sounds quite like either you or John are talking. Steven's Branfman's work is beautiful, btw.

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Tyler G, that is exactly what Neil is saying.  The inverted can/ bin is acting as the lid of sorts.  The combustible just go on the layer of sand, with some more sprinkled on top of the wares, once they are all on the bed of sand.  Just make sure you set the can on the sand first, to mark a border, so you know how far you can go out with the wares you set down.

I used to use a wet blanket on top of my combustion chambers, to reduce the smoke.  But the small bins I use now, seal so tight, that almost nothing gets out.

In regards to protection, welders glove are a must, as is some type of eye protection.  Those, who unload the kiln, and add to the combustion bin have both.  I tell the students to wear natural fibers, like cotton or wool.  We do not use thick jackets, or face masks.  Anyone with long hair, is to pull it back, if they are around the kiln or combustion bins.  

We cover safety procedures extensively, days before, as well as right before unloading.  I also remind them, that if anything is dropped, just get back.  Maybe it's just me, but when handling ceramic wares, I have the tendency to try and break its fall with my foot, when dropped.  I'm not sure if any of the students share this reaction with me, but I remind them anyway, so they don't have to explain a scar later on in life...

In the years that I've done Raku, the only issue I ever had was, when the idiot instructor (Your's Truly), saw that we had some extra crumpled paper, we didn't use.  So I thought, "Hmmm I'll just throw it in one of the reduction bins..."  Shortly after scenes of the movie "Backdraft" popped into my head, right after the lid made a whoosh and puff sound, and lifted off the bottom a bit.

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13 hours ago, Benzine said:

I also remind them, that if anything is dropped, just get back.  Maybe it's just me, but when handling ceramic wares, I have the tendency to try and break its fall with my foot, when dropped. 

That's a great reminder. It is a natural reaction to things falling- we want to catch them and try to save them. It's a difficult thing to not do.When I got out of grad school, I worked a couple years for a commercial glass company, and handled large pieces of sheet glass all day, anywhere from 4x8 to 8x12 foot sheets of 1/4 inch plate glass. One of our big rules was to just let things fall if they were headed that way. No trying to catch anything.

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1 hour ago, neilestrick said:

That's a great reminder. It is a natural reaction to things falling- we want to catch them and try to save them. It's a difficult thing to not do.When I got out of grad school, I worked a couple years for a commercial glass company, and handled large pieces of sheet glass all day, anywhere from 4x8 to 8x12 foot sheets of 1/4 inch plate glass. One of our big rules was to just let things fall if they were headed that way. No trying to catch anything.

Falling plate glass....Yikes!

 

I've rarely had students drop anything, while unloading.  The bigger issue, is the ware (Usually a sculptural piece) breaking due to the process, and piece falling off.  Part of the problem is, when they are in the kiln, they have that nice glow to them, indicating they are hot.  Once they are out, and start to cool, they don't look nearly as hot, in the day light.  So that is another part of why the students are tempted to just grab them.  All the more reason to fire at night!  Everything just looks more awesome!

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18 hours ago, Tyler G said:

I'm also very interested in the relatively smokeless way. Are there any good resources or videos you guys would recommend for raku practices? I have done it many times but never in a way that sounds quite like either you or John are talking. Steven's Branfman's work is beautiful, btw.

Yeah... Steven's work is wonderful.  He is THE guy for American raku.  See his couple of books on the subject. Lots of solid information in those.

The usual and main goal in post fire reduction is to reduce any materials that are available to be reduced and also hot enough to be reactive, and to impregnate the porous body with carbon compounds.

The more physical space around the object to be reduced in a container, the more AIR there is in there to start with.  The less tightly sealed the container is, the more air leaks into that container.

To create good fuel rich reduction, air is your enemy.   The more air... the more fuel you need to get consistent reducing conditions.  The more fuel burning, the more flame and smoke.  Great for drama and pictures.... for other things.... not so much. 

So the basic tenets of using the minimum burnable material to get the job done is small tightly sealable containers, one object per container, select the container to just fit the particular object, make sure  the piece is going into that container at the correct temperature for the goals, and then not opening the container until the piece is cool (no quenching or very "late" quenching).

Follow this above and a relatively tiny handful of shredded newspaper or sawdust or hay or the like will create a wonderful level of reduction and carbonization.  Surprisingly little material.

While it is a little sensitive an analogy given recent events, most people di post-fire reduction in raku like using a shotgun.  Blast enough pellets in the direction of the objective and you are bound to hit something.  To reduce the smoke factor, you wand to use a rifle.  Single bullet well aimed.

Hope this helps.

best,

............................john

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Thanks again for all the great info, what a valuable resource you all are. John I still want to come by NHIA at some point and meet you and see the studio.

Question: If I'm using Laguna Raku clay, could I fire a particular piece to cone 5/6 with regular cone 5/6 glazes instead of Raku firing it?

Also, what temp do you guys bisque to for Raku?

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12 hours ago, Tyler G said:

Question: If I'm using Laguna Raku clay, could I fire a particular piece to cone 5/6 with regular cone 5/6 glazes instead of Raku firing it?

 

Test it with a cookie/bowl under

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think you should do some trial runs Tyler.

or are you just doing the confirmation talk to reassure yourself?

you need the process off pat before children come on board

and the what ifs cove re d

b

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You're right Babs, it was always the plan to test without kids first.

 

Firing one went very well. Thanks for all your support.

 

Neil - In reading your last post you talk about the person pulling pots being really suited up. To me it seems more dangerous to be the person opening and closing the can, therefore I would want them at least as bundled. In discussing possible future firings with kids involved the can lid is actually the spot I would be most nervous about a student operating. Thoughts on that anyone?

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Yes and no. The person pulling is getting the direct heat of the kiln, so they need to be bundled well. Especially if it's the type where you have to completely open the kiln to get to the pots. The person operating the can is only getting the heat of the pot and the small amount of combustible material, however that is a dangerous situation, too. The more bundling for everyone involved, the better.

Edited by neilestrick
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On 10/3/2017 at 5:00 AM, Tyler G said:

Got the Ward Burner.

Got the kiln ready to go.

Location in middle of quad, with hose and extinguisher on hand.

Stakes and ribbon to mark the boundary.

 

Questions:

I fired with a group once and the nervous/safe/smart people wore this fancy silver jacket thing. Is that something I should get?

I fired with some college students recently and honestly I trust my advanced ceramics class students more than I would some of those college folks and I am considering letting students pull pots if given the right protection.  It's a private school and it's the week after parents weekend so I can talk to the parents, many of whom I know. I do have art dept colleagues who can help pull pots and whatnot but it seems to me that the job of being in charge of the trash can is just as dangerous if not more dangerous.

Do you guys where any type of glasses and mask?

Im looking to buy the last safety equipment stuff ASAP and fire in 2 weeks.

I wear a face heat shield  when I use my serious heat resistant gloves.  Don’t do this with students. I do this at home.

 

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Marcia,

I used some fine sawdust, from some sanding I did at home.  No issues at all, and I thought the resulting colors turned out well.  I actually had a combustion issue, like you mentioned, with newspaper.  I took the lid off, to add some extra paper, we had ready, and WHOOSH.  Luckily it didn't doing other thing, other than startle a few people namely me.  

I will note, that fine sawdust mixed with air, like when throwing it towards a ignition source, will cause rapid combustion of it, and a bit of a fireball.  If you use the the fine dust as a bed, you wouldn't have to worry about the flare up.    The fine dust can create interesting effects, when a clump of it, makes it onto a ware, without fully combustion.  The clump forms a layer of insulating ash around itself, and gives that spot more of a reduction look.

I've liked the results with dried leaves, corn stalks, and of course, newspaper.  I'm not a big fan of courser sawdust.  I haven't had it give me the results I am looking for, and it tends to leave rougher reduction spots, than other materials.  I'm sure others have had great success with the coarser stuff, it just doesn't work for me.

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Any time you open the can before it has cooled enough, you risk the gasses inside re-igniting from the inrush of oxygen. Always let it cool until you can take it off without gloves. I've seen soe impressive fireballs come out of raku cans, and caught one in the face once when I was an undergrad.

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