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questions about saggar-firing

updated thu 18 feb 99


Charlie and Linda on wed 17 feb 99

Hi Christine,

Here's some tips on saggar-firing in a raku kiln that might be helpful
for you. The technique takes lot's of practice to get a feeling for all
of the variables that produce great results but this should get you

Loading a saggar:
We place our terra sig'ed bisqued pieces into planter
shaped saggers that have approx. 1/2 the space filled with coarse red
oak sawdust. This is packed in tightly. We sprinkle in 1-2 tablespoons
of table salt and the same amount of copper carbonate (sulfate works the
same for us) then add more sawdust to keep chemicals from touching the
sides of the piece. Fine copper wire found in "bell ringer wire" can be
stripped of plastic and then draped over the pot. We also use a few
strands of coarse steel wool for a orange blush (less is more with steel
wool, too much will blacken the pot). Then lid of the saggar is set in
place. Our lastest firings show that having a tiny air gap will help
color development.

We are firing in our fiber raku kiln which leads to quick heat up
and cool down...times will vary in different kilns. 20-30 mins is spent
heating the kiln to 1500-1600f. An additional 20-25 mins is spent
continuing to reach and stay at 1850f. The kiln is then shut off and
left until it has cooled. The pots are then removed.

Trouble shooting this technique-

Pot too black-Too much sawdust or too little time at 1850f or too tight
of a saggar container.

Pot too light in color-Fired too long or too much air let into saggar by
too large of an air gap or saggar spilt open or kiln too hot.

If you want an example of the results of this technique---go to this
site and look at the second pic. Black lines are copper wire and they
resist the black smoke! The red/brown squigglies are from steel wool
(use less than you think you need). Copper carb and salt was added into
the saggar also.

Two last things. We prop our pieces up in the saggar with bits of brick
or pieces of kiln shelf to keep the piece out of the chemicals.

We throw our saggars out of grogged raku clay to make them last longer.
We are experimenting with using higher fired saggars but the jury is
still out. (Anyone out there in Clayart land with a great saggar clay
that they would like to share?)

Happy firing,

Charlie and Linda Riggs.

> I undertook a saggar firing last year and was not happy with my results.
> If anyone out there can help me with this I would greatly appreciate it.
> Saggar firing is beautiful and I don't want to give up on it. I am sure that
> I am just misunderstanding some point about it.
> Thanks again,
> Christine