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synj00

Need Advice, Too Many Options For Firing!

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synj00    17

Hey all I've been trying to get started on my own here with ceramics. I've secured a kickwheel and am practicing with that and making coil pots and pinch pots with my son. I'll be taking some classes in the fall. What I really want to make is small functional cups and bowls and some decorative Raku and to be able to experiment with saggar and salt firing as well.

 

I went the raku kiln route and have almost all I need to create a kiln out of a 55 gallon drum with the ceramic fiber minus the burner I havent  bought yet. My problem and delima is that going this route assumes that I already have bisquware fired ware and then I would glaze that and then put that in the raku kiln. I've heard from several sources that you cant bisque in a raku kiln as temp rises too fast.

 

Should I save the money I had dedicated to the raku burner and save for an electric kiln to get started making functional pieces and be able to bisque and THEN get into some raku and building the propane fired kiln? I luckily dont have too much invested in yet. I could use the 55 gallon drum to do some experiementing with sawdust firing.

 

So many options! How do you guys and gals do it? How did you start out?

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Mart    23

Welcome to the forum.

Get a good modern electric kiln first. Top loading kiln with good controller, that can go up to 1300 C is all you probably need. You do not need a huge kiln. 50-80 l is plenty for start.

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Benzine    609

Welcome to the wonderful world of ceramics!

 

I recently, in the past year, built my own Raku kiln, out of a metal garbage can.  I was amazed at how relatively simple it all was.  I'm still tweaking it, but it's still pretty awesome. 

Burners can be relatively inexpensive, depending on the route you go.  I went with a weed burner, that was twenty to forty bucks online.  There are more effiecent burners, that are designed for the Raku application, but they cost a bit more. 

The biggest cost, for me, was the ceramic fiber blanket.  Even snagging some of eBay, cost me a couple hundred.  Others have found better deals, but I wasn't so lucky.

 

So, holding out, on buying a burner, won't be saving your much money towards a kiln.  In regards to a kiln, look everywhere you can, especially online.  You should be able to find  dozens on eBay, Craigslist, Gov Surplus, Public Surplus, etc.  If you find some, that you are interested in, just ask about them on here, and you'll get plenty of help.

 

In regards to firing bisque in a Raku kiln, it is actually possible.  However, because the bisque is generally slower, it is not efficient to use a Raku kiln for bisque firings.  It would just take too much gas. 

 

You could always look to share a kiln, in your area, until you get one of your own.

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Hi Synj00 and welcome to this forum!

 

I would recommend to do as Mart said. Buy yourself an electric kiln and start to produce nice objects and then bisque fire them in the kiln. You can use the kiln also for firing glazed objects (after the bisque!). You can also do saggar firing in the electric kiln. If you are hooked to ceramics in a few month, you can still start doing Raku. I wouldn't bisque in a raku kiln, although, Benzine is right, you probably could bisque in there. I never had the courage to do so and maybe lose my work in trying to bisque it too fast. Bisque in an electric (or gas) kiln and then sawdust fire the piece in the drum you have will be lots of fun. Enjoy!

 

Evelyne

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I agree with the need for an electric kiln and Benzine is correct on the garbage can kiln. I'm still using that method and it work well even with my janky weed burner. Of course, don't forget a decent pyrometer. If you are going to do Saggar you'll need to know the temp.

 

the educators on here might have a better opinion on how to proceed with regarding the types of firing to do. You will defnitely be working on your forming techniques for...well...ever, but it might be more consuming at this stage. Do you go the route to try a bunch of different types of firings or focus on one? Hmmm....I think I could effectively argue both sides so I'm no help.

 

No matter what...have fun!!!

 

Marc

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Marcia Selsor    1,301

I have to agree that you should get an electric or gas kiln for the bisque and functional glazing type of firing. If you are going to La meridiana this Fall, ask Pietro to recommend a type of European kiln. He may even be able to steer you towards some factories or potters who have used ones. I know electric can be more expensive than gas in some places. So you may know better about that. You may be able to build a kiln for your burner that could fire raku, bisque and glaze.

Pietro has built most, if not all the kilns at La meridiana. He also sometimes builds them for others, I think.He has a better idea of what is available where you are located.

 

Marcia

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Isculpt    96

This post may seem that I'm shilling for Susan Schumpert, a potter who sells Olympic kilns, but I promise that's not the case!  She retails Olympic kilns that have been refurbished or that have scratches and dents and such.  She also sells new kilns at 30% off retail.  I found her two years ago through a pottery site that lists items for sale by potters, pottersweb.net. She posts a list of available kilns a couple of times a year, I think. She was really helpful to me when I went looking for my first kiln, although I ended up buying locally because I needed to have the kiln delivered and set up for me (and the local seller was the only retailer who offered that service).  I don't know what kilns are available at the moment, but you can Google her name to get contact info.

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OffCenter    82

This post may seem that I'm shilling for Susan Schumpert, a potter who sells Olympic kilns, but I promise that's not the case!  She retails Olympic kilns that have been refurbished or that have scratches and dents and such.  She also sells new kilns at 30% off retail.  I found her two years ago through a pottery site that lists items for sale by potters, pottersweb.net. She posts a list of available kilns a couple of times a year, I think. She was really helpful to me when I went looking for my first kiln, although I ended up buying locally because I needed to have the kiln delivered and set up for me (and the local seller was the only retailer who offered that service).  I don't know what kilns are available at the moment, but you can Google her name to get contact info.

 

Basically, this is a way for Olympic to sell kilns without upsetting dealers and a great way to get a good deal on a kiln.

 

Jim

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Mart    23

You can also look at it this way:
1: Get a low/mid fire electric kiln 
2: Get a kiln that can handle >1300C (make sure you have the wiring to give you power you need)
 
If you go for 1, you are limited to low fire clay/glaze and nothing more (including bisque firing for kiln 2)
If you go for 2, you can do everything between low fire clay and all the way up to stoneware clay and glazes <1300 C)
 
yes, I used ">" and then "<" because if they promise you 1300C, you usually can not (do not want  to) go  that high on a regular basis.
 
After you have a electric kiln, build yourself a fiber blanket gas kiln. It will set you back about 400-500 EUR (probably less in the states).
And now you can start experimenting with reduction. :)

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synj00    17

So many helpful replies! Thanks so much to you all. I've found that through "just asking" I can find what I need. Its sometimes intimidating to try to go it alone. I'm going to check into the Olympic Kilns route. I actually live about 3 minutes away from the factory. I like the idea of having the option of doing stoneware so I think the midfire will be out of the running. Mart, I got a great deal on the fiber blanket from larkin refractory so eventually the gas kiln is in my future :-)

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Benzine    609

So many helpful replies! Thanks so much to you all. I've found that through "just asking" I can find what I need. Its sometimes intimidating to try to go it alone. I'm going to check into the Olympic Kilns route. I actually live about 3 minutes away from the factory. I like the idea of having the option of doing stoneware so I think the midfire will be out of the running. Mart, I got a great deal on the fiber blanket from larkin refractory so eventually the gas kiln is in my future :-)

Well, if you can get a great deal on the blanket, then the rest of a Raku kiln, won't cost you much at all. 

The wire to hold the blanket to the "skin" will cost you about five bucks.  The burner, as I mentioned, will be twenty to forty.  And depending on the route you go for the outer structure, it will be at most twenty bucks.  From there, it will just be your time to build it, and some fuel.

You'll also probably want to make some ceramic "buttons" to hold the blanket to the outer support.  I used Raku clay, since it will hopefully hold up, to the rapid heating and cooling better.

 

This may be getting the cart infront of the horse though.  Unless you have access to a kiln to bisque your wares/ buttons to even make the Raku kiln, you can only do so much. 

So the cost of the Raku kiln won't be the problem, just the steps you need to take, before you can finish your kiln, or properly prepare you wares. 

 

Good luck on finding an electric kiln.  They are a bit of an investment, but can last many, many years.

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Mart    23

Screw this raku bs. Seriously. I do not understand why it has to be "raku kiln" and not a normal gas kiln, made of ceramic fiber blankets.

I personally have no wish to waste gas on "raku" and produce this cheesy, fake looking "oh, it's so oriental" whatever. Sorry, but this "raku" obsession makes no sense to me at all :)

 

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Benzine    609

Screw this raku bs. Seriously. I do not understand why it has to be "raku kiln" and not a normal gas kiln, made of ceramic fiber blankets.

I personally have no wish to waste gas on "raku" and produce this cheesy, fake looking "oh, it's so oriental" whatever. Sorry, but this "raku" obsession makes no sense to me at all :)

Well, I mean, I built my Raku kiln to make cheesy, fake Oriental crap, but I can only speak for myself.

I was going to use it, to create wares with unique glaze effects, the process provides, but I figured that was just stupid.

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Raku nut    0

There has been a lot of good ideas and options presented here, and I only want to add one more for your consideration.  You could look into local studios that will fire your work for a fee.  Until you figure out how far you want to commit to this hobby/obession it would be more cost effective and not so sharp of a learning curve, if you have your pieces bisqued elsewhere and then play with Raku or sawdust, saggar and all of the wonderful possibilities.  You will still have to invest in the materials and means for making glazes, and lots and lots of reading.

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OffCenter    82

 

Screw this raku bs. Seriously. I do not understand why it has to be "raku kiln" and not a normal gas kiln, made of ceramic fiber blankets.

I personally have no wish to waste gas on "raku" and produce this cheesy, fake looking "oh, it's so oriental" whatever. Sorry, but this "raku" obsession makes no sense to me at all :)

Well, I mean, I built my Raku kiln to make cheesy, fake Oriental crap, but I can only speak for myself.

I was going to use it, to create wares with unique glaze effects, the process provides, but I figured that was just stupid.

 

 

Now, you've made me want to build a raku kiln! I love cheesy, fake Oriental crap.

 

Jim

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Benzine    609

 

 

Screw this raku bs. Seriously. I do not understand why it has to be "raku kiln" and not a normal gas kiln, made of ceramic fiber blankets.

I personally have no wish to waste gas on "raku" and produce this cheesy, fake looking "oh, it's so oriental" whatever. Sorry, but this "raku" obsession makes no sense to me at all :)

Well, I mean, I built my Raku kiln to make cheesy, fake Oriental crap, but I can only speak for myself.

I was going to use it, to create wares with unique glaze effects, the process provides, but I figured that was just stupid.

 

 

Now, you've made me want to build a raku kiln! I love cheesy, fake Oriental crap.

 

Jim

 

 

 

 

Screw this raku bs. Seriously. I do not understand why it has to be "raku kiln" and not a normal gas kiln, made of ceramic fiber blankets.

I personally have no wish to waste gas on "raku" and produce this cheesy, fake looking "oh, it's so oriental" whatever. Sorry, but this "raku" obsession makes no sense to me at all :)

Well, I mean, I built my Raku kiln to make cheesy, fake Oriental crap, but I can only speak for myself.

I was going to use it, to create wares with unique glaze effects, the process provides, but I figured that was just stupid.

 

 

Now, you've made me want to build a raku kiln! I love cheesy, fake Oriental crap.

 

Jim

 

Then you are in luck sir!  That's actually what the word "Raku" translates to.  I've heard people say, that it refers to a name bestowed upon a ceremonial tea bowl maker, but that's nonsense.

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Raku nut    0

I have heard that.  It is always good to understand foreign languages.  It makes me want to do even more crap. :) Everyone have a great day! 

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synj00    17

Wanted to say thanks to all who chimed in here to help me make the decision to go with an electric kiln. I'm glad I did. We did the first bisque fire a few weeks ago and this weekend we'll do a glaze firing.

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