After an item is made in clay, it must dry slowly to avoid cracking. Often the potter wraps items in plastic to slow down the drying process. Depending on the pottery, it can take days or even weeks to dry. 

Before it is fired, the pottery is called greenware. Greenware passes through several distinct phases before its completely dry. While wet, the clay is easily shaped but as it dries it becomes stiffer and resists manipulation. Just before it dries completely, the greenware passes through a phase called leatherhard which is the stiffest and strongest phase prior to firing. Leatherhard clay can be handled roughly, even carved into, but if forced to change shape, it will crack. Interestingly, the next and final stage of drying is the most fragile. Totally dry greenware is called bone-dry and bone-dry clay breaks very easily so it must be handled with extreme care.

As the next step in the pottery process, the greenware must be bisque fired and then it become bisqueware. At Kissed By Fire Studio when we bisque fire, the pottery is heated to 1950 degrees Fahrenheit in the kiln. This takes 8 hours to achieve and another 8 hours to cool enough to unload the kiln. At that temperature, all chemically remaining water is removed from the clay and impurities that can effect the glaze are burned out. Bisqueware is no longer fragile but it can still break easily.

After it has been bisqued, the pottery is ready to be glazed. Glaze is a thick slurry that at a very high temperature melts into a thin layer of glass. At Kissed By Fire, we fire our kiln to 2235 degrees Fahrenheit (cone 6.) It takes 13 hours to achieve this temperature and then we do a slow cool down which takes an additional 5 hours before the kiln finally turns off and cools naturally for another 6 to 8 hours. With a glaze firing, it takes a full 24 hours between loading and unloading the kiln.

As you can see, the pottery process is not a quick one but the final result will last a life time, even hundreds of life times. The oldest pottery ever found has been carbon dated to be 17,500 to 18,300 years old.

Kissed by Fire Pottery Studio
 currently located at 5607 Woodview Ave.
Austin, TX 78756