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captmike

Clothing for Raku Firing

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Not sure where to post this so if incorrect please move.  I have long (elbow length) leather gloves for removing hot pots from my Raku kiln (using tongs), but would like to have maybe a jacket or sleeves and apron.  What do most of you use?  Thanks

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I wear an old firefighter's coat. Fire resistant clothing is best, of course, but any clothing that is made of natural fibers and is thick enough to keep the heat off can work. I have used an old canvas Army coat in the past. Never wear synthetic fibers, because they melt when heated. Always wear long pants and closed-toe shoes. A face shield and hat are also required. In addition to the obvious danger of the heat of the open kiln, you also need to be protected if a piece decides to crack or pop apart and a hot shard goes flying. If you're doing this in a group setting, everyone in the group should have long pants, closed toe shoes, and safety glasses. The biggest gripe I have about raku workshops is the lack of safety equipment for people watching.

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Exactly everything that Neil said.

When it's just myself  doing a firing, I may or may not have disregarded several of those however...

Keep in mind, it's not just the unloading of the kiln, that you need to be cautious of.  There are also dangers, when you unload the reduction bins.  The combustibles can reignite and flare up, and the wares are still fairly hot.  I use the same gloves for unloading items, out of the reduction bins, that I do for unloading the kiln itself. 

In regards to the fires flaring up, I was doing a firing, with a class.  We had everything unloaded, and the lids on the bins.  There were a couple scrap pieces of newspaper, we were using for reduction.  I thought, "Well, we are done firing, might as well use these too."  So I took the lid off the bin, and WHOOSH.  I was treated to a first hand account of a "Backdraft".  I assume there is some science involved with that, but I prefer to think, that I made the fire mad, when I tried to snuff it out, and it was enacting its revenge...

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Fire extinguisher, bucket of water, and/or a hose nearby is a good idea too. That wonderfully prepared pile of combustibles for your raku chamber can become the source of an unintended fire quite quickly.

If you are using materials which produce toxic fumes, and do not have abundant ventilation, a respirator is a must. If you have lung complications (asthma, etc) a respirator is not a bad idea in general.

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I got my firefighter coat by knowing some firemen. If you don't, you can still introduce yourself at a station and explain your need. Pictures of a firing will help. They often have old used coats around and will probably be helpful. Invite them to see your set up and give you safety advice. I was given a smaller coat (I'm smaller) but my bigger guest potters wear it turned backwards.

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