Saggar firing

Saggars have long been used in wood-fired kilns. In these kilns you have flying ash. To protect the glaze from the ashes, the work is placed in a ceramic pot (saggar).

Saggars can also be used as an alternative firing method. Bisque fired work (unglazed) is placed in the saggar together with coloring and combustible materials. During the firing, the materials ignite and colors appear on the work.

This has a few advantages 
• you don’t need a gas kiln or a piece of land
• you can do it indoors (no, not much smoke)
• you will always reach the right temperature
• you need less colorants and combustibles, so it’s much more sustainable, even more so if you use solar panels for your kiln
• the success rate is higher

You can read all about saggar firing in my book:
"Saggar firing in an electric kiln."

Frequently Asked Questions about saggar firing

Will my kiln turn black inside?

No, if it does, there was something wrong: there were too many combustible materials in your saggar or there was oil, paint or other contaminants on or in the materials you were firing with.

Does the fire alarm go off when I burn the saggar?

No, it will not.
When firing a saggar in an electric kiln many people have the image of a pitfire: a lot of smoke development. However, that is not true. Because you are burning in a relatively small space (the saggar), you only need very little combustible materials. You also need to make sure that everything is dry. If smoke does come out of your kiln then there were too many combustible materials in your saggar or your saggar was too big or there was oil or paint on your combustibles.

Will it affect my elements?

Hardly, if you do it right. Your elements get a bit 'affected' with every firing (bisque, glaze) so you have to replace them every now and then. My experience is that firing a saggar does not significantly shorten the life of the elements .

Can you do this also in a gas kiln?

You can also use the technique I describe in the book in a gas oven, but you must ensure that sufficient oxygen continues to 'flow' through the kiln.

Can the kiln be inside?

Yes, my kiln is also inside. Make sure you can ventilate the room well and do not work in the room when the oven is on (but that also applies to a biscuit or glaze firing).