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Re: burnishing ceramics - firing electric


From: Marvin Bartel (marvinpb_at_TeacherArtExchange)
Date: Thu Nov 18 2004 - 13:23:36 PST

You can get the black carbon effect in an electric kiln. It can also
be a good way to set off all the smoke and fire alarms unless you
have a very effective exhaust system.

The container in the kiln has to be tight enough to contain most of the carbon.
For carbon any combustible material such as sawdust, paper, leaves,
etc. is placed in with the pots.
A cone 010 prefiring is okay, but may not be needed if the work is
dry and not to thick.
The smoke firing is up to about 010 or 011, but needs to be lengthy
enough for the 010 or 011 temperature to get into the container where
the pots are. You can place a blind cone 011 in the smoking
container to see if it melts by the time the visible 010 melts.
The container in the kiln has to be robust enough to survive the
firing. Potters generally use saggars for this. A saggar is a
refractory covered box made of fireclay that can be used over and
over. The saggar is covered with a flat shelf or the saggars can be
stacked in the kiln with the pots lying sideways in sawdust with more
sawdust piled over the pots. Laying the pots on various green
leaves, horse hair, etc. in a bed of sawdust may actually leave
rather interesting patterns on burnished pieces.

If you have a library with old Ceramic Monthly magazines, see this
article by one of my former students, Dick Lehman. If you are ever
in Goshen, Indiana, his studio is at the Old Bag Factory.
Author(s): Dick Lehman
Issue: March 2000, Page 34, Ceramics Monthly
His saggar fired work can also be seen at this web site:

You can find more info at this site.

Marvin Bartel, Ed.D., Professor of Art Emeritus
Goshen College, 1700 South Main, Goshen IN 46526
studio phone: 574-533-0171
"You can't never know how to do it before you never did it before."
... a kindergarten boy working with clay for the first time.