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Saggar-fired Blackware

Unpacking fired saggars

A saggar is a type of kiln furniture. It is a ceramic, boxlike container used in the firing of pottery to enclose or protect ware being fired inside a kiln. Saggars have been used to protect, or safeguard, ware from open flame, smoke, gases and kiln debris.

In recent times, studio potters have used saggars to create decorative ceramic pieces. In this use saggars are used to create a localized reducing atmosphere or concentrate the effects of salts, metal oxides and other materials on the surface of their ware.

Liking the look of low fired blackware, but not the often impermanent nature of the color of the infused carbon and the porous nature of the low fired pots, I have used saggars in high fired pottery (about 2300 degrees F) to imbed the carbon permanently into the vitrified clay. The colors of black, and grays with white accents are no longer subject to fading with exposure to light as are some raku and pit fired pots .

Prepared pots are nestled into saggars filled with beds of combustible materials, such as sawdust. These materials ignite or fume during firing, leaving the pot buried in layers of ash and fine charcoal. Ware produced in filled saggars may display distinctive black and white markings. Porcelain and stoneware are ideal for displaying the surface patterns obtained through saggar firing.

The pots from a recent saggar firing will be shown at the studio during the Maine Pottery Tour, May 5 and 6.

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