Firing Natural Clay WITHOUT a KILN

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Introduction: Firing Natural Clay WITHOUT a KILN

About: Dreamer, Mother of 2, Handmade jewellery designer working with terracotta, resin and polymer clay

Not every one has access to a professional kiln. And it may seem ridiculous to invest in one when you are creating miniatures or jewelry out of natural clay as a DIY project or as a one time experiment.

If you plan on creating clay pieces on a regular basis and wish to try out glazes, The FireBox 8x6 LT Multimedia Kiln by Skutt is a great starter kiln. And guess what Instructables is hosting a clay contest in which the grand prize winner gets this amazing kiln along with loads of clay suppplies, glazes, Laguna clay and tools from The Ceramic Shop

Anyways, in your DIY projects, you can't do away without firing, as the firing process is necessary to create the bond between clay molecules to prevent it from dissolving in water

So how do we fire natural clay WITHOUT a kiln?

Let's find out in this instructable

Step 1: Materials Needed

If not a kiln, what are the materials needed for firing?

You will need:

1. 2 wide mouthed clay pots

2. Sawdust (rice husk/wood shavings can also be used instead)

3. Coal

4. Kerosene

5. Matches

6. Tongs

Step 2: Set Up Pot A

Added a layer of saw dust (about an inch or two thick layer) to the Pot A and place the completely dry clay pieces on it, taking care to evenly distribute them

Step 3: Top It Up With Another Layer of Saw Dust

Top it up with another layer of saw dust to completely cover the pieces

Step 4: Burn Coal to Red Hot Temperature in Pot B

1. Take coal in pot B

2. Sprinkle some kerosene on the coal pieces

3. Light it up and bring coal to red hot temperature

*Exercise caution while dealing with fire. Coal tends to crackle and spurt out of the pot. Make sure to take necessary precautions*

Step 5: Transfer Coal From Pot B to Pot A

Once the coal is red hot, transfer it carefully with the help of tongs to the first pit, right on top of the sawdust

Step 6: Leave the Set Up Undisturbed Till It Cools by Itself

it will take atleast 4 hours for the coal to burn completely and another couple of hours until the heat subsides. Leave it aside for this whole while

Step 7: Carefully Fish Out the Fired Pieces

The output of this method is black. This is NOT soot. The sawdust which helps in gradually and evenly distributing heat, also acts as a barrier limiting oxygen supply to the clay pieces. So the iron compounds in clay undergoes reduction reaction, resulting in black output. However the pieces turn strong and the clay molecules bond together similar to kiln firing, making it insoluble in water.

All my clay jewellery and keepsakes are fired using this method and painted with acrylic paints.

You can find another instructable on DIY clay jewellery where i have elaborated on making a pair of cute clay earrings. You can see how the painted pieces look like in that tutoral.

Feel free to take a peek into my facebook page Festoons Creations for more of my creations

You can buy my creations from Festoons Etsy shop

Step 8: If You Found Instructable Helpful, I Greatly Appreciate Your Vote in the Contest

I have entered this instructable in the Clay contest hosted by Instructables.

If you found this instructable helpful, i highly appreciate your support with a vote

Thank you all for reading

If you try this method out, do post your creations in the comments. Looking forward to see all your wonderful creations

Clay Contest 2016

First Prize in the
Clay Contest 2016

1 Person Made This Project!

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67 Discussions

1
relbatto
relbatto

4 years ago

we used to use a similar method and include newspapers that had been soaked in solutions of various metallic salts, our clay pieces were placed in a fire pit filled with wood chips and the pottery was wrapped in the dried newspapers, yuu get some incredible results. your designs for small jewelry pieces are really well thought out shapes and graffiti incisions. we just did small pots and figures. Your method will work anywhere and doesn't involve a lot of hunter gatherer effort. i will definitely show this to my grand daughter. We live in Oklahoma and the red clay here should give really nice results.

0
Saranya Anandha Krishnan
Saranya Anandha Krishnan

Reply 4 years ago

Definitely. Share this method with her and let us know how her pieces turn out too ?

0
Saranya Anandha Krishnan
Saranya Anandha Krishnan

Reply 4 years ago

Wow... That sounds interesting. Would love to see those pottery pieces. Please do share pics dear.

0
Squirtle64
Squirtle64

4 years ago

Very interesting, it sounds quite similar to a process called raku firing in which the clay is bisqued and then glazed, then heated to temperature and pulled out at its peak and dumped in a sealed trash can full of newspaper and sawdust to induce reduction... i kinda like how you reduced all this down to one step though for people with fewer resources that don't want to invest in professional equipment... lol

0
Saranya Anandha Krishnan
Saranya Anandha Krishnan

Reply 4 years ago

Haven't tried raku firing yet. Sounds interesting. Would love to try it out some day, to see how the clay turns out

0
ClareBS
ClareBS

4 years ago

That is very exciting. Over 30 years ago I was a fairly serious potter and have done many raku firings but haven't touched clay since moving to New Zealand over 30 years ago. This is a simple way I could get my clay fix. I voted for your instructable.

0
Saranya Anandha Krishnan
Saranya Anandha Krishnan

Reply 4 years ago

Yay...! Do share pics of your previous works and the ones you try with this method. Would love to see them. Do you have a website or fb page which I could follow?

0
Trevor54
Trevor54

4 years ago

By "coal" do you mean cgharcoal?

0
seamster
seamster

4 years ago

This is a fascinating idea to me, and a very interesting process.

Does the sawdust catch fire from the coals?

0
amcconnell3
amcconnell3

Reply 4 years ago

How exciting! Does it need to be real coal or can we use charcoal?

0
offseid
offseid

Reply 4 years ago

I had the same question!