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Smokeless Raku

When you think of Raku, you probably think lots of smoke, and this is generally true, but there are a few techniques that can reduce or completely eliminate the amount of smoke that you have to deal with.

The first method involves using water over the reduction chamber. This works pretty good with garbage cans. After you place the piece in the garbage can and replace the lid, either spray or pour water over the top of the lid. The water quickly cools the lid, which causes the heated and expanded metal to shrink a bit. This provides a tighter seal and should reduce the amount of smoke that escapes from the container.

The second method also works well with garbage cans. In this case you place wet newspapers across the lid. After the piece is placed in the can, the lid containing the wet sheets of newspaper is placed over the can. The wet newspaper provides a better seal around the edge than just metal on metal.

The third method usually works better with smaller reduction chambers. This involves a sand pit. The piece is removed from the kiln and placed on a bed of combustible materials in a pit of sand. A metal container, such as a metal bucket, washtub, or even a garbage can, is placed upside down over the piece. The rim of the container is pushed into the sand, which provides almost an airtight seal. Additional sand can be pushed up around the rim if smoke is still escaping.

Finally the fourth method is the water lock. This method is very similar to the sand method but involves water instead of sand. This can work well using a metal tub and a very small garbage can. The piece is removed from the kiln and placed on a set of bricks in the metal tub. The tub contains a few inches of water that is below the height of the bricks. A small can is then placed upside down over the piece with the rim submerged into the water. This proved an airtight seal in which no smoke escapes. To keep the combustibles out of the water with this method, it works better to put the combustibles in the can that will be placed over the piece. This way as the can is placed over the piece to provide a seal, the combustibles in the bottom of the can fall onto the piece, ignite, and start the reduction process.

Each of these reduction methods will provide a new factor of the Raku process and may keep you from tearing up.



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Gary R. Ferguson - Raku Artist

(c) Copyright 2005, Gary R. Ferguson