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ClayArtsUtah

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Reply with quote  #1 

A saggar is just a way to trap smoke so it has time to absorb into the pottery.  So there are no rules.  Yes, some saggars are absolute masterpieces, but leftover, unclaimed bisqueware bowls will work too.

 

Saggars can hold just one piece or can be filled with multiple pieces.  When using one large saggar to hold the work of various artists, a "mummy wrap" can be used.  Place one pot and the saggar ingredients desired onto a piece of newspaper.  Then wrap the newspapar around the pot holding the ingredients tightly against the pot.  Place the wrapped piece into the saggar.  This will keep each artist's ingredients closer to their own pot so that each artist has some control over their own colors.  However, there will still be more intermingling of smoke colors than if each pot was in its own saggar.

 

 

Here are some ideas for quick and easy saggars:

 

 

After a few quarters without being claimed, these bisqued bowls were saved from the garbage can to be used for saggars.  A second bowl of similar size, an unclaimed plate or a bisqued clay slab will make the lid.


ClayArtsUtah

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These "mini-saggars" were handbuilt from Cone 10 Big Pot White clay.

 

1.  Roll a slab of clay to 3/8 inch or a bit thicker.  You will need enough clay to wrap around a rolling pin and enough for the bottoms and lids of the saggars.

2.  Wrap a rolling pin with tissue paper or newspaper. 

3.  Wrap the slab of clay around the rolling pin and join the edges togther.

4.  Allow the clay to set, but don't let it dry too much or shrikage will cause problems due to the rolling pin.

5.  With a pin tool, cut the clay every 3-5 inches to create rings.  The rings will become the walls of the saggar.  Be carefull not to cut into or "scar" the rolling pin if you use it to roll clay.

6.  Carefully remove the rings (slide everything, including the paper off the rolling pin and then remove the paper from the center of the rings) and place each ring on the slab of clay that will be the bottom of the saggars.

7.  Using the rings as a template cut the bottoms of the saggars.  Leave a quarter inch sticking out from each ring.

8.  Fold that extra quarter inch up and smooth it onto the ring to create a solid seal between the saggar walls and the bottom.

9.  Turn the saggars over onto a slab and cut the lids.  Do not attach the lids to the saggar.  Just let them dry flat.

10.  In order to record what is in each saggar, they were numbered using a black slip in a trailing bottle.  Numbers or names could also be carved into the clay.

 

Let dry and bisque.  I bisque to 06, but any bisque temperature will work.

 

  


ClayArtsUtah

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Reply with quote  #3 

Terracotta flower pots make a very easy saggar.  The plates that are normally used under the pot make great lids.  Since saggar temperatures are normally under 1700 degrees, terracotta should not have any problems. But remember that terracotta is a low temperature clay.  If your temperature accidentally gets away from you, your saggar will melt.  As you can see, we found this out the hard way.

 

We also found that the really large pots (over two feet tall) cannot withstand the sharp temperature increases of the saggar fire and break into little pieces.

 

 


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Tin foil can be used in very low file saggars, but it melts at about 1200 degrees.  Ceramics Monthly has had some very interesting articles on special effects created with tin foil.  Unfortunately such low temperatures were outside the perameters of our project.

ClayArtsUtah

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Reply with quote  #5 

Here is a variety of saggars in the kiln.  Ken Marvel throws rings of clay that can be stacked to create saggars of various heights.  One of Ken's ring saggars is seen on the left side of this photo.   


Dawn

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Saggars are important for controlling the amount of smoke trapped with the pot.  A saggar with a tight lid can be sealed with kiln wash to prevent any smoke from escaping to create deep blacks with sawdust with flashes of metalic silver from fine steel wool (think very high reduction, no oxidation to create rust.)  But most people want the pinks & oranges created from oxidized colorants so air needs to move in the saggar.

 

Broken kiln shelves or square slabs of clay will create a flat lid to allow the saggars to be stacked in the kiln, but the size can be adjusted so the the square leaves gaps on each side over the round saggar.  This allows air to move and provides lighter, brighter colors.  If stacking is not a concern, broken lids or even pieces of broken pottery stacked over a saggar trap some smoke, but not all.  This creates lighter pinks and oranges.

 

 

 

 


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Dawn Atkin
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Reply with quote  #7 

Saggar Idea:  Chuck Parsons and I have been talking about the "Perfect Saggar"  (Yes, we are saggar geeks).  A saggar could be made witih holes up the side.  Each hole could be made with a plug so that the amount of airflow and the location of the airflow could be completely under the artist's control.

 

 


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Dawn Atkin
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Reply with quote  #8 
I want to start saggar firing, and have several questions.
1. How much larger does the saggar container need to be than the pot being fired ?
2. How much sawdust is put into the saggar, or how tight do you pack the sawdust ?
3.Do you place other materials tight against the pot ?
4. When using other materials, do you also use sawdust ?
Dawn

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Reply with quote  #9 
Treetrek - Sorry I did not notice your questions sooner.

1.  A saggar can be much larger than the pot to allow more circulation of air (lighter colors) or exactly the right size to trap materials against the pot (darker colors).  Where it is really close to the saggar there will be no smoke and no color which can crate great variations.  In other words - any size.

2.  Sawdust is just an ingredient like any other.  You can use none or a lot depending on the effect you want.  Fine sawdust (no packing required) makes a nice dark black.  Perfect to put about a third the height of your pot to create a black base color at the bottom of your pot.  (Or the top if you put your pot in the saggar upside down.)  In other words - any amount.

3.  Placing the material right against the pot will make dark colors.  A single strand of steel wool placed against the pot will make a black line where it touches.  A single strand of steel wool placed away from the pot will still cast a pale rust orange fade where the smoke hits the pot.  My work usually has a combination of the two. 

4.  I usually use sawdust at the bottom of every saggar.  It makes a nice black base that then fades to the other colors.  But it is not required.  You can do a saggar fire with no sawdust at all.

Saggar Fire to me is a playground.  You can't screw it up.  Lots of stuff packed tight will be very dark, very little stuff with lots of air movement will be very light.  Most people are looking for something in between.  But if you don't like the result after you open the saggar, just re-bisque and do it again.  There is no wrong was to do this.  Just jump in and give it a try.


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Dawn Atkin
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Reply with quote  #10 
I thought I saw a piece on mummy wrapping as a saggar technique some time ago. Could you give or point to the details of that technique?

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Dawn

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Reply with quote  #11 
Mummy wrap is not as exotic as it sounds.  It is just a practical way to let a number of people share one saggar (it was designed for classes.)  Lay a piece of newspaper on a table and place the piece to be saggared on it.  Add the ingredients desired and then wrap it all up in the newspaper. Fill a saggar with pieces wrapped this way.  This lets each person use the ingredients they want.  The newspaper will protect the pieces from flopping around while loading the saggars in the kiln and even make it easy to transport them to an off-site kiln.  Newspaper itself does not add much color to a saggar (maybe a touch of light grey).  This is not recommended for artists searching for specific color, since the fumes from the various ingredients in the saggar will mix.
Hope that helps.

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Dawn Atkin
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