Welcome to Inside the Studio!
Each week one of our contributors gives you a sneak peek into their studio, creative process or inspirations. We ask a related question of our readers and hope you'll leave comments! As an incentive we offer a free prize each week to bribe you to use that keyboard. The following week we choose a random winner.
You have won one rectangle-shaped 'Call Me Rosebud' pendant (retail value: $25) from Erin Prais-Hintz of Tesori Trovati
Please send Erin an email with your information.
beads placed into a can for raku reduction
Since we are still having some decent weather here in Northern New York, and I had gotten out my raku equipment to make Zombie jewelry with my grandchildren when they visited over Columbus Day weekend, I thought I would share with you some pictures of how I used my small kiln to raku some beads I made this week.
The raku process requires the placement of red hot ware into a container ( for beads, like the one above) that has some combustibles that will catch on fire and once the lid is in place, will deprive the clay of oxygen and turn the unglazed areas black. The glazes will often develop an iridescent sheen.
Examples of selective glazing of my pieces for the raku firing
This toggle clasp has an unglazed area around the orange which will be blackened by the reduction firing
This daisy only has color and clear glaze on the petals
these birds have glazed areas and unglazed areas
this maple leaf was left unglazed but glazed all around the leaf
Here is how they looked after the firing
Raku Fired Toggle Clasp
Raku Fired Daisy
Raku Fired Birds
Raku Fired Maple Leaf Pendant
I use a small metal rack to string my beads on for the firing so that I can get them out of the kiln easily when they are red hot.
Beads on metal rack before the firing
I heat the kiln up to about 1800 degrees F. and then open the door and take out the red hot beads and place them in a Christmas popcorn container with combustibles.
beads heated up to 1800 degrees F
popcorn container with beads and combustibles on fire
I usually throw in some wood shavings and sawdust right before I put on the lid. Then I wait about 10-15 minutes and take them out and plunge the rack with the beads in a bucket of cold water. That step seems to bring out the sheen on the glazes.
raku fired beads drying in the dehydrator
After the beads have been in the cold water and cooled off, I scrub them with a brush and than put them in my dehydrator to dry.
Then they are ready to be used in jewelry. Many of these beads are in my Etsy shop . I hope you will stop by.
Raku bead firing is a very unpredictable process. The colors of the glaze and the depth of blackness is not easy to control and has to do with many factors. Many experienced raku artists say that gray and overcast days with high humidity make the colors come out the best. I love the excitement of the raku process and the surprising results. But I also know that sometimes I will be disappointed in the outcome.
Now for my question to you: Do you like to be surprised by the results of what you do or would prefer a predictable outcome? or are you somewhere in between? Please tell and leave a comment below.
I will give away a pair of raku beads from these firings from a randomly chosen comment left below.
Thanks so much for stopping by.
beads shortly after they were removed from the cold water
You can see the iridescence on the bead rack as well as the beads.