Saggar Firing : The Process

Each piece starts as the white stoneware clay KGM body, mixed by Valentine Clays in Stoke-on-Trent. I use a combination of ceramic techniques in making my work, including pinching, slab-building and coiling.

Once each batch of work is dry it is fired to 1220℃ in an electric kiln. This temperature ensures that functional pieces are vitrified and durable enough for to withstand day to day use.

After the 12 hour firing the pieces can be unpacked once the kiln has cooled down, and this is usually takes as long as the firing itself. Patience plays a huge role in ceramics!

During a saggar firing, organic materials are packed around the ceramic wares to create unique and smoky surface markings.

The use of organic materials in this process dovetails beautifully into my uncontrollable urge to collect natural elements I spot around me. Some of my favourite “ingredients” to use are:

- feathers
- eggshells
- shed snake skins
- fresh and dry flowers
- horse hair
- insects
- green leaves
- nut shells

Sometimes I’ll spot small elements when I’m out and about and gather these; other times I’ll intentionally go off to forage for these little bits.

Individual saggars are made by first laying organic materials against the surface of each ceramic piece and then bundling the whole lot up in newspaper or aluminium foil.

These bundles are then packed into a drum or pit and a fire is built around them. The fire reaches around 680℃, at which point the organic elements combust and release vapours that are absorbed into the porous ceramic surfaces to create dreamy markings, textures and colour.

Each piece leaves the fire metamorphosed, smokey, and completely unique.

After a good wash and sanding the work is sealed to be waterproof, stain resistant and food-safe.