Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Firing Your Pottery: Step 1, Bisque Fire

To get to the point where you have a shiny, maybe colored, piece of pottery in your hands takes two firings in the kiln. Bisque firing is the first firing. 

Once you’ve make your ceramic piece by whichever technique you prefer (hand built, thrown, etc.) and its dried sufficiently, it can be bisque fired, which leads to a hardening of the clay. How dry is dry enough? Good question. That depends on the environment since weather can effect drying times hugely. If it’s humid, pots will take longer to dry. But be careful, if that pot is not completely dry it can explode in the kiln. I've been there and done that and it's quite a mess to clean up and not good for the kiln’s heating elements.

This is my medium-sized kiln
This is what the pottery looks like when stacked in the kiln. 
This will be the bisque firing (pottery can be stacked during the first firing). This side view stack of pottery is actually sitting on top of my big kiln (I’m 5’5” and the big kiln comes up to my waist!).
Here's a top view as I'm loading the kiln.

Once the firing is done you have to wait several hours for the pieces to cool down so you don't burn your hands touching them.

Next post it’s time to glaze!