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May 2021 Saggar Firing  1 day Workshop


Step 1:  Each student was asked to prepare a few pieces by either throwing or hand building.  Then prior to the workshop each piece was smoothed into a polished finish by burnishing or using Terra Sig and polishing with plastic or sponge etc.

Step 2:   Then the pieces were bisque fired prior to the workshop.  (See below)

Surface Treatment / Glazing

Each bisqued piece was given 2 - 3 coats of ferric chloride.  During the last coat, salt, sugar and/or miracle grow was sprinkled on.  Then they were left to dry completely prior to wrapping in the aluminum foil saggar.

Each student added a variety of additional combustibles, including sawdust, banana peels, copper wire, copper scrubby wire, steel wool and pine cones.  

Once combustibles were added, they were wrapped up in two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil, making sure the first layer was crumpled up a bit then flattened out to allow pockets of air to create interesting patterns. 

After firing, each piece was washed and then polished with either paste wax or glossy floor polish.

Bisque Firing
Final Firing

Each piece was bisque fired to cone 09.

The saggars were stacked into the gas kiln at Eversfield Ceramics.  The stack was centered in the middle of the kiln to allow the heat to fully surround the stack of saggars.

Here is the firing schedule.

Cold start:  Kiln was around 18 degrees C

Fired slowly to 235 degrees C.  Held for 10 minutes

Moderate firing to 575 degrees C.  Held for 15 minutes

Moderate firing to 660 then held again at around 660 - 670 degrees C for another 10 minutes.

Turned up the burners again to quickly fire to 720 degrees C.  Then shut off the kiln and let it cool.

Materials Used

Student pieces were made from Cone 10 Plainsman 570 clay.  

Firing Materials

Ferric Chloride 

Sawdust, salt, sugar, miracle grow, banana peels, thin copper wire, course steel wool, copper scrubbies and pine cones were all used either sprinkled on the pots, or added to the saggar.

Name           Description         Saggar Materials Used                                                                                                      Position in the “stack”

Audrey         #301                         Salt, sugar, sawdust, few strands of course steel wool                                   Top Centre Right

Shelly           Stout Pot               Salt, sugar, miracle grow, sawdust, course steel wool                                   Top Centre Centre

Shelly           Round Pot            Salt, sugar, miracle grow, sawdust, copper scrubby wire                            Top Front Right

Shelly           Tall Cylinder        Salt, sugar, miracle grow, sawdust, banana peel                                               Top Centre Left

Shelly           Small Cylinder    Salt, sugar, miracle grow, pine cone                                                                         Middle Centre Right

Kelly              Round Pot            Salt, sugar, sawdust, banana peel                                                                               Bottom Middle Right

Leslie            Oval Stubby         Salt, sawdust, copper wire, banana peel                                                                Bottom Centre Right

Joyce            #304                         Salt, sugar, miracle grow, course steel wool, sawdust                                   Middle Front Left

Kelly              Stout Pot               Salt, sugar, miracle grow, Pine cone, copper wire                                           Bottom Centre Centre

Leslie            Vase                          Miracle Grow, sawdust, pine cone                                                                            Bottom Back Left

Joyce            #305                         Salt, sugar, miracle grow, copper wire, steel wool, sawdust                     Bottom Front Right

Joyce            #307                         Salt, sugar, miracle grow, sawdust, banana peel, Copper Scrubby        Top Front Centre

Kelly              Wavy                        Salt, sugar, sawdust, random steel wool                                                                Bottom Centre Right

Lynn              Vase                          Salt, sugar, pine cone, steel wool, sawdust                                                          Top Centre Left

Lynn              Round                     Sugar, miracle grow, sawdust, copper wire                                                         Middle Back Left

Kelly              Pregnant Pot       Salt, sugar, miracle grow, sawdust, copper scrubby, banana peel         Top  Centre Right 

Lynn              Little Vase II         Salt, sugar, miracle grow, sawdust on bottom, Steel wool                         Bottom Centre Right

Audrey         #209                         Salt, sugar                                                                                                                                 Bottom Back Left

Audrey         #207                         Salt, sugar, Miracle grow, steel wool                                                                        Bottom Back Right

Kelly              Stout Vase             Sawdust, copper wire                                                                                                        Bottom Centre Middle

Kelly              Tall Bump              Salt, sugar, steel wool, pine cone                                                                               Bottom Centre Middle

Leslie            Square                     Salt, sugar, miracle grow, steel wool                                                                        Bottom Front Left



Each of the pieces were very different.  Depending on where in the stack they were fired, the materials used within the saggar, how much material, how thick the piece was and shape.  What was surprising is that each piece was so entirely different, even if they had the same/similar material within the saggar.   


The pieces that were on the outside of the stack received more heat as the aluminum foil was more broken down on the outside.  This could have been the largest factor in getting such a variety of results.  The next time i would try to make smaller stacks and separate them on shelves to see if it makes a difference.

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