A combined bisque and glaze fire

The participants of the ceramics workshop are working toward a Raku firing at the end of June. I made sure to put on a bisque firing of all their work 2 weeks beforehand, so that they will have one class in which to do their glazing before the Raku.

I find opening the kiln after a bisque is just as exciting as opening after a glaze firing, but in more of a relieved way as you discover that yes everything is in one piece and nothing exploded or fell over. There were quite a few “sculpted” pieces in this firing so there was some concern that not everything would survive, so I was delighted to see that everything made it.

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Another reason to celebrate was due to the success of an experiment I tried – that is to combine the bisque firing with a glaze firing. I knew that we didn’t have enough work to completely fill the kiln, so I first loaded a shelf of very flat or short pieces of glazed work at the bottom of the kiln. They didn’t take up much height in the kiln so I knew there would be room for the pieces to be bisqued.

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After loading the kiln, I programmed it to run a bisque firing, which basically translates as a long SLOW raising of temperature, but to continue upwards the extra 120 degrees Celsius needed to reach the low firing glaze temperatures. It was a complete success! On top of that, the glazed pieces look AMAZING as usual hahaha!

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Now that I know this kiln firing program works, in the future if there is not quite enough work for either type of firing I can (carefully) stack the kiln for both types of firing together. It will just take a bit of extra planning to get it right.

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James Hayes