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High Bisque Low Glaze Firing

The normal way for the pottery artist or ceramist to fire pottery and ceramics is usually to bisque the pottery to somewhere between Cone 09 and Cone 06 (explanation of cone temperatures), glaze the work and then fire to the maturation temperature of the clay body and the glaze.



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This high bisque low glaze is the flip flop from the normal firing, because they fire the greenware to its full maturity and then it is hard for the glaze to be absorbed.
This would go for earthenware as well as stoneware pottery and ceramics.
Ok, now, there is another method to fire pottery and ceramics and that is a technique often used in industry, where the pottery and ceramics are fired to a higher temperature than the glaze firing.
This works best with earthenware or mid-fire clays bodies, as they are still somewhat porous when high fired.
This means that they still have the capacity to soak up the glaze.
A typical combination might be to fire bisque to cone 01 and then glaze fire the work to cone 06.

There are a couple of things that need to be taken into consideration.
First of all, the clay should be strong enough for your needs after the bisque firing, because the lower temperature glaze firing will not further vitrify the clay much, if at all. Secondly, the lower fire glaze should be tested for a good glaze fit.
A good glaze fit is not a guaranteed thing though and you might have the usual problems of crazing, shivering or pinholing occur, so previous testing is really important.
Underglaze decoration can still be done on greenware or bisque though.

The technique is less suited to stoneware or porcelain, but is not impossible.
The problem is that the higher fired pottery and ceramic has become almost glass like, so it probably won't soak up any glaze.
This excludes the normal methods of glazing such as dipping or under normal circumstances spraying.
To overcome this problem, the vitrified work needs to be heated with a burner, then a light coat of glaze is sprayed on.
This process is repeated until a sufficient layer of glaze has built up.
The thickness of the glaze may need to be tested by scratching it with a pin or nail.
In this case, it is also recommended to put some gum arabic into the glaze to stop it from brushing off when handling to put in the kiln.
In some cases, this technique will be desirable even for stoneware or porcelain, especially when applying glaze to bisque pottery or ceramics somehow influences the decoration, as would be the case with water soluble metal salts.

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