Monthly Archives: February 2015

Saggar fired teawares

Some years ago I experimented with high temperature saggar firing. A saggar is an unglazed clay pot into which a smaller pot is placed. This practice came about when potters of old wanted to protect their wares from the naked flame of their kiln. This was especially important with the porcelain kilns of the Far East as a small piece of sand/grit could easily spoil the piece. The saggar firing technique is often used nowadays by low temperature potters. Combustible materials such as sawdust vegetation, salts, metal carbonates or sulphates are placed with the pot in the saggar. A vaporous atmosphere is created within the saggar which leaves its imprint on the pot. Using this technique at higher temperatures runs the risk of burning off these imprints. I had experimented with putting raw unfired pots into the saggar and firing straight to top temp skipping the conventional biscuit firing. I got some intriguing results but did not follow up on the experiment.

Saggar-fired pot

Saggar-fired pot

Closeup of clay degradation on saggar-fired pot

Closeup of clay degradation on saggar-fired pot

I intend to revisit this technique and have prepared a group of teawares for that purpose. I’ve made saggars from a rough crank clay with perlite added. The teabowls will fit snugly in these and I will be able to stack them thus obviating the need for shelves and all that business. Some of the saggars will be sealed while others have windows cut in them to allow for flame flashes. I’ve also placed combustibles, oxides etc in some.

Saggars with their teabowls inside.

Saggars with their teabowls inside.

I have rehearsed the stacking on a table to make the stacking easier later on. This rehearsing allows for a more considered placing of the wares. The pots will be fired in the little wood fired train kiln and I intend to fire to 1300deg.C and soak for 1 hr.

Rehearsed stacking of kiln on table

Rehearsed stacking of kiln on table

Update –
Some teabowls from the saggar firing. Mixed results but lots to ponder and work on. Some promising leads that I need to follow through on and refine.

Naked  clay from lidded saggar.

Naked clay from lidded saggar.


Naked clay fired in closed saggar.

Naked clay fired in closed saggar.

Ash glazed and fired in closed saggar. No combustibles

Ash glazed and fired in closed saggar. No combustibles

Celadon glaze over slip fired in open saggar.

Celadon glaze over slip fired in open saggar.