How to make Raku fired Copper Matte ceramic pottery pieces
The RAAQUU Guide to making our signature Copper Matte Glazed ‘Raku’ Ceramics ( For our RAAQUU Raku Starter Kit )
Get your starter kit here if you don't already have it ready.
Here’s what you will need:
- A kiln
- A soft paintbrush
- Keihatsu Bisqueware (provided in our RAAQUU raku pottery kit)
- Ceramic rated Tongs and Ceramic Rated Gloves
- RAAQUU Copper Matte Glaze (provided in our RAAQUU raku pottery kit)
- Dust mask / Respirators ( prefer N95 rated )
- Safety goggles
- Small metal cans ( at least 6 inches in diameter ) with lids for the reduction chamber
- Some old newspaper
- A bucket of water for safety and to cool ware
- Plenty of space free from anything potentially flammable
- Two other people to help during the ‘Raku’ firing phase, and safety gear for them as well
- If you are sensitive to smoke, the ‘Raku’ firing technique used in this project can be severely hazardous. Always ensure your mask is on.
- Use only genuine ceramics gloves that are rated to at least 930 degrees Celsius (about 1700 degrees Fahrenheit). Oven mitts are NOT safe.
- When out of the reduction chamber, pieces may fall out of the cans at well over 1000 degrees Celsius (1832 degrees Fahrenheit). Though they may look cool, please ensure that you are wearing ALL required safety gear and that you use tongs to take pieces out of the cans.
Unfired pottery is called 'greenware'. These potteries are left to dry over a few days depending on size and weather. During drying, the greenware generally shrinks.
Bisqueware has several properties of its own. Once it has been bisque-fired, it is said to have become ceramic. Unlike greenware, it cannot be dissolved in water anymore. ( You have been provided bisqueware with this kit )
Preliminary Step: Preparing the RAAQUU Copper Matte Glaze
Mix 240g of the provided RAAQUU Raku Glaze Mix powder with 300ml of water to create a black solution. Using a soft paintbrush, cover all parts of the bisque Keihatsu pieces with the solution. Alternatively, you may glaze only a portion of the bisqueware to create our signature Carbon Half Copper Matte finish. You may also dip the bisque Keihatsu into the solution for a smoother finish provided that the vessel containing the Glaze Mix is large enough.
Making a RAAQUU Full Copper Matte Pottery Piece:
- Complete the glazing process as desired based on the Preliminary Step above. Note that the glazes have a low melting point, and they will mature in about an hour.
- Load the kiln and bring the temperature up to 1000 degrees Celsius (1832 degrees Fahrenheit). This should take about an hour.
- Check on the ware every 15 minutes or so after you've been firing for about 45 minutes. Look out for bubbling in the glaze, and once it starts bubbling, you are about 15 minutes away from "Raku Time!"
- You know your ware is ready to pull when it is glowing red, and the glaze surface appears shiny and liquid.
- While you're waiting for the glaze to mature, you need to prepare your reduction chamber.
- Shred some newspaper and fill several small metal cans with the shredded newspaper. The cans should only be a little bigger than the pieces you want to put in them, the smaller the better to create a good reduction and lots of pretty colors.
- Once the pieces are ready, you are going to need 3 people to start the ‘Raku’ firing - one to open the door, one to pull the pieces out with tongs and place them in the cans, and one to close the can lids. Each person should already have their own set of gloves, dust masks, and safety goggles on for protection. So, get prepared for the step as explained below.
- Person 1 opens the door while person 2 pulls the wares out one at a time. The door should be closed between pulls to retain heat. Place the wares as quickly as possible into the waiting cans. Person 3 should observe and as soon as the shredded newspaper catch fire, fit the lids on securely to smother the fire and smoke the pieces.
- Wait a few minutes for the fires to smother and smoke the pieces. A good seal in a well formed reduction can will not emit smoke. Look out for signs of leakage when there is smoke coming out of the sealed can. Also, be careful when you open them up. Keep a safe distance as you remove the lids and watch out for back drafts.
- Remember that once removed, the wares are still EXTREMELY HOT! Any remaining shredded newspaper will begin to burn again once air is introduced back into the can. You can pour some water into the cans to put them out and cool the ware.
- Once slightly cooled, you may take the pieces out with tongs and douse them in the bucket of water.