Sunday, January 19, 2014

How to Make a Bead rack for Raku Firing - Sunday Ceramics

 A couple of days ago I posted that I was making some bead racks for raku firing. A few readers asked if I would post some photos, so here they are...

I start by throwing bottomless cylinder. I keep the walls thick in hopes that doing so will make them last through a few firings. Occasionally I have squeezed them into a square shape, this time I didn't get back to them until they were too stiff to alter. I also made two cylinders that will stack on top of each other, therefore creating extra room in the kiln. 

Using a hole cutter, I punched holes all around to support the bead wire. I tested them out and adjusted some of the holes, so that the wire would match up and insert easily. They don't have to be pretty because these racks don't last that long during the raku process. I am lucky if they go through three firings, occasionally they have made it through just one. If you use them in a high fire situation, I am sure they will last longer. We don't use raku clay in our studio. It's too easy to have a mix up and we have found that we had just as much loss with raku clay as with cone 10 stoneware. Something that we did learn after moving to North Carolina is that the Highwater clays we buy don't work in raku. Our locally made STARworks clay handles the process quite well. These bead racks are made with STARwhite with grog. When these are dry I will bisque fire them and then they will be ready for action.

This is a bead rack that has been through a couple of firings. I have started to add a "basket handle" made of discarded electric kiln elements to the top. It makes the ring easier to lift out of the kiln. You can see that this one has snapped off... nothing lasts long through the raku process!
I learned about adding these handles from Tracey Broome's blog

What I like about the bead racks is that the heat from the ring ignites the combustible material in the metal can quickly, giving much better results. The beads on their own cool off too quickly on their way to the can and take too long to ignite the paper.

Our potter friend, Sally Cornwall, gave us this pack of high temp wire. She used it at the last workshop that Jeff taught at her studio in NH. She thought I might like to give it a try. You can cut it into the lengths you want. I believe she said it is also less expensive than the straight bead wire. I have a feeling it won't last as long.

I would be happy to answer any questions about the bead racks and/or raku. I would also love to hear if you have a method of firing beads that works well for you.

You can also find this post on Sunday Ceramics. Be sure to head over there and see what other ceramic artists are up to.


  1. I use that high fire wire and just stick it into solid clay that I roll into cylinders. The cylinders and the wire have lasted for at least ten firings now and are still ok to fire some more. I tried the rings like you have but they kept cracking on me after one or two firings. I have found the solid columns last longer but yours hold way more beads. It's always a trade off somewhere with clay isn't it?!
    Pretty beads!

  2. Tracey, glad to hear the wire holds up. I have been using the rods I have for a number of years, but they were ridiculously expensive.
    i am assuming you insert the wire and bisque fire the cylinder. I think I am going to give that a try too.

  3. I love the blues and greens in those first two bead pics!

  4. Good ideas, as you always have. Can you tell me how to get the link for your etsy shop with the pretty pic of all your work on it? I just decided to try Etsy again...and it will take a learning curve.

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Thanks for this, I had been pondering how to glaze fire some skull beads that I had been making. Normally I just give them an iron wash and put them in the kiln wherever I have space. I have been making some porcelain ones that would look nice glazed so Thankyou for the inspiration.

  7. B. Rogers, when you are in listings manager on Etsy, look at the column on the left. You will see a section caller PROMOTE. Under that section select "Etsy Mini".
    Follow the instructions and it will generate a code for you to insert in your blog or website. Good luck with Etsy. If you work it, it will pay off!

  8. what a super demonstration and description, thanks so much

  9. Thanks so much for the super description! I am definitely going to try making a bead rack :)

  10. It could also be used in regular firings. The idea is great

  11. Thank you for this post. I am making the cylinders right now. Question....when moving rack from kiln to combustion container , how do you keep the beads from moving and sticking to one another?


I welcome and appreciate comments. Lately I have had a lot of spam and therefore have had to turn on word verification as well as comment moderation for posts older than 14 days.