Understanding the Saggar Firing Ceramic Process

Since ancient times, clay has been used for a variety of practical and artistic purposes. At Brenda McMahon Gallery, my own ceramic creations never fail to captivate visitors. Each piece is one-of-a-kind, leaving a lasting impression on anyone who sees them. I achieve this uniqueness in my saggar firing technique. Most ceramic artists apply glaze to their work for design and functionality, but I prefer using the saggar firing method for a more organic look without the use of glaze.

How Does Saggar-Firing Work?

First, I craft hand-thrown vessels on the potter's wheel. When they dry, I polish them with a stone to create a smooth surface. Once complete, the pieces are fired in a kiln with organic materials, leading to distinctive surface patterns and gentle hues of color. The saggar-firing process produces a striking array of smoky blacks and grays, complemented by fiery shades of orange, salmon, pink, and burgundy. I call the abstract landscapes and cosmic imagery “fire paintings.”

In the firing, as the flames mark the surface, a natural fume is left behind, yielding the soft, earthy colors you see. The hues observed in the clay are a direct response to the different combustion materials utilized during the saggar firing process. As a result, organic, ethereal colors and patterns emerge, creating enchanting, natural designs on the outside of the vessel. 

Finally, I craft the handles beneath the lid from naturally sourced wood and embellish them with precious stones. My vessels serve as artistic expressions and are not suitable for containing water due to the absence of a glaze. 

I love experimenting with natural materials and the markings fire leaves on earth through saggar firing. Each saggar firing creates unique impressions and coloring on my vessels, like the unpredictability of waves on the shoreline.

The Ceramic Saggar-Fired Process

 Come see for yourself!

I’d love to show you more of my saggar-fired vessels in person and I always enjoy talking with visitors and other artists about the process. Discover a stunning array of vessels at Brenda McMahon Gallery, both in-person and online at Brenda's Vessel Gallery. Explore my expansive collection and find the perfect piece for your home or collection!



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