This is my homemade Raku kiln - I made it with hardware cloth, ceramic fiber and a few firebricks. I'm so excited about this amazing workhorse of a kiln! It's heated by propane and a Venturi burner - you can see it at the burner port above. It will reach 1850 degrees in about 45 minutes. In this photo below it has reached about 1700 degrees.
I've been using it for about a year now, and I usually fire it up at least twice a week. On those days you'll find me in the backyard looking like this in my safety gear … in fact I almost scared the FedEx guy to death the other day when he came around the back to deliver a parcel.
When the kiln is red hot and 1850 degrees, I use tongs to remove the pots one by one. The pots are placed in garbage cans that I have set up nearby. The cans have combustible material inside - I've been using newspaper and straw recently. When the pots hit the newspaper, the newspaper bursts into flames and the lid is placed on top. There's LOTS of smoke!
The carbon of the smoke is absorbed by the hot clay, turning it a glorious black. What I Iove about Raku firing is the miraculous chemistry of how the kiln, flames and smoke affect the glazes and clay, creating a black clay and crackled glaze. Almost always there is some kind of unpredictable and wonderful surprise! Here's one of my recently fired winged guardian cats - who went into the kiln as a black and white cat and came out looking like this!