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May, 2021 - Raku Fireplace Surround


Making the Tiles:  I started with coming up with a design that would fill the two sides of the 30 x 6 inch fireplace surround.  At first I started with a standard tile size of 6x6 adding 7% for shrinkage.  Had a great deal of difficulty getting the tiles to dry flat and not curl.  Did some research and found that if I put them on a piece of drywall to dry, they did not curl as much.  After thinking about the design and talking to the customer,  we discovered that we could divide the 30 x 6 inch space into 3 large tiles rather than 5 smaller ones... much nicer to break the design in only two places.  I borrowed my friend Joyce's slab roller to make 9 10.7 x 6.4" tiles ( 3 extra in case some broke) Using the drywall, they were dried slowly, then sanded to the final size.

Adding the Design:  After bisque firing, All the black areas of the design (except the body) were transfered onto the tiles using tracing paper and a sharp pen.  These would later be filled with liquid latex in order to turn black in the raku firing. The two main body parts were also traced on the tiles, but they would be glazed in copper raku glaze in the glazing stage.

Surface Treatment / Glazing

The sides and back of each tile  were covered in wax resist, so that during the raku firing they would turn black.  The other black areas were done using liquid latex.  Once the glaze dried, the latex was peeled away.  The 2 main body areas of the design were painted with copper raku glaze using a brush, then when dry they were covered in liquid latex.  Then the entire  tile was dipped in white crackle raku glaze.

Once all the glaze was dry, the latex on the body areas was peeled away.

Bisque Firing

All tiles were bisque fired to cone 09 in the electric kiln using the standard cone o9 slow bisque programmed setting on my electric kiln.

Final Firing
Materials Used

Plan to raku fire these tiles as soon as the weather permits.

Laguna B-mix Cone 5/6 clay was used for the Tiles.

Firing Materials

No additional materials, other than Raku glazes were needed.




1. Had to add 7% and not 12% for shrinkage,  as the tiles were not going to be fired to cone 6, only cone 04 bisque.  Good thing I had developed my shrinkage chart for all stages of drying and firing....

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