About Saggar Firing
A saggar is a lidded container made from strong, durable clay. They have been used worldwide for centuries, as a practical way to protect ceramics from the harsh firing conditions in a kiln.
Kilns were fueled using wood, coal, anthracite and animal dung. The ceramics were placed inside the lidded saggars which would shield them from any flying debris, whilst still reaching the correct temperatures.
Today saggars are used as an enclosed mini environment, placed within a larger gas kiln. Combustible items are deliberately placed into the saggar, which then burn and release fumes during the firing. Trapped by the lid, the fumes seep into the ceramic's semi porous surface.
I use local West Cork sawdust, seaweeds and grasses, metal wires and found objects that I collect, soaking them in oxides and mineral compounds. They are carefully wrapped around my ceramic pieces and burn in the firing, producing fumes of vivid colour. Remnants of the wires and organic matter can fuse to the surface creating surprise markings and textures.
The saggars allow me to achieve a huge variety of colour with subtle tones and depth, reminiscent of the environment around me. With each firing, I have an idea of the kind of results I will get but I am consistently surprised at the final outcome. The anticipation and excitement of opening up a fired saggar to see the finished piece emerge, is a constant inspirational and motivating force for me.