What are those weird vessels stacked inside pottery kilns, filled with curious materials? They are saggars - specially designed boxes used in the distinctive saggar firing technique. Let's unpack how saggars work and the dazzling effects they can create.
Saggar firing refers to placing wares like pottery inside protective containers called saggars during kiln firing. Saggars shield pieces from direct flame or heat. Combustible materials are added inside the saggars to generate special surface effects.
Saggars act like mini-kilns, creating small controlled environments with their own atmosphere. As the saggar contents burn, gases alter the clay and glaze inside. Saggar firing adds mystery and serendipity to a pottery piece.
Saggars perform several important roles:
The saggar box is critical for managing the small atmosphere that impacts the pottery wares during firing.
Saggars are lidded containers made of high-fire clay or refractory materials. They are shaped like boxes, cylinders, or trapezoid forms. Small ventilation holes allow the passage of heat and gases.
Saggars are positioned carefully on stilts inside the kiln to surround pieces on all sides without touching. Several saggars can be stacked and cross-stilted for multi-level firings.
Adding combustible materials to a saggar generates atmospheric effects:
As the added materials combust, gases are infused into the clay and glaze inside the saggar.
Firing with saggars involves carefully controlled heating stages:
Following the steps carefully is essential to fully develop the unique saggar effects on the pottery.
When done skillfully, saggar firing creates mesmerizing surface patterns and textures:
The atmosphere inside each saggar leaves its distinct mark on the fired clay and glazes.
Saggars traditionally were fired in wood-burning kilns, but today they can be fired in gas or electric kilns. The best kiln types for saggar firing are:
Any kiln that reaches cone ten temperatures can be adapted for saggar firing.
Keys for beautiful saggar-fired pottery include:
With testing and fine-tuning, saggar firing's magic transforms pottery into hauntingly artistic works full of mesmerizing depths.
This historic technique mixes science and serendipity for one-of-a-kind ceramic art. The saggar envelops clay in its transformative powers.