How To Fire Clay Without A Kiln At Home

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firing clay without a kiln

Clay projects are fun and easy to make for all ages. You can make sculptures, plates, cups, pendants, Christmas ornaments… anything you can imagine! Objects formed out of clay, though, traditionally get fired in a kiln to dry them out. The extreme amount of heat produced by a kiln makes your clay project sturdy and strong.

These days getting your clay to a kiln is not an easy task. First, you have to find a pottery shop with a kiln that’s open. Then you have to spend the extra time, money and gas to take your clay project to the shop so they can fire it for you. Depending on how backed up the shop is on orders, it could be weeks before yours is finally ready.

There’s no need for you to go through all that hassle. In this article, we’ll show you how to fire clay without a kiln at home using your oven.

Also interesting: Stages of clay.

What You Need To Fire Your Clay In Your Oven At Home

First, let’s talk about what the process of firing clay is and why it’s so important.

Firing clay is an essential part of making pottery. It is the process of heating up your clay project slowly and to extremely high temperatures. This crucial step makes your clay sturdier and stronger, so that it will not shatter easily. Traditionally, clay is fired in kilns, which can reach the high temperatures needed for the firing process. The hotter the kiln, the sturdier the clay becomes.

Most of us at home don’t have kilns. We have to take our clay projects to a pottery shop and pay the shop to fire them for us. But there are a couple of cheaper alternatives to firing clay in a kiln. Your project will not be as sturdy or strong since the heat will not be as intense. But if you’re careful with it, you’ll have a beautiful, dried clay piece to display and use. The best part? You can fire it at home using your oven.

Here are the supplies you need to get started:

Also interesting: Best Air Dry Clay.

How To Fire Your Clay In Your Oven

  1. Let your clay project dry outside or in a cool, dry place inside your home where it won’t be disturbed. It needs to air dry for at least 36 hours.
  2. Take your clay project and set it on the baking sheet.
  3. Place the baking sheet with the clay on it inside the cold oven.
  4. Turn the oven on to 350-390 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Let the clay bake for 30 minutes.
  6. When you take it out, it should be completely dry. You can now add paint to decorate.

Again, keep in mind that the clay will be more fragile than a traditionally kiln-fired[2] ceramic. You’ll need to be more careful with it and not put it through any hard use. With care, though, it will last for a long time, and you will save money by not taking it to a pottery shop.

Also interesting: Types of clay.

What You Need To Fire Your Clay In A Charcoal Grill

If you have some spare time and a charcoal grill, you can fire your clay more traditionally. A charcoal grill can get a lot hotter than an oven, which means your clay will be sturdier than if you just dry it and bake it in the oven.

Here are the supplies you’ll need to fire your clay in a charcoal grill:

  • A charcoal grill
  • Lighter fluid
  • Matches
  • Charcoal
  • Small pieces of wood (like sticks or wood chips)
  • Tongs

Also interesting: What is clay.

How To Fire Your Clay Using A Charcoal Grill

  1. Pour charcoal in the bottom of your grill.
  2. Light it up by spreading lighter fluid over it and igniting it with a match.
  3. Let the charcoal burn.
  4. When the flames die, and the charcoal is smoldering, put your clay in the ashes near the edge of the grill. This will allow the clay to start to get hot.
  5. After fifteen minutes, move the clay to the center of the charcoal.
  6. Start building up the fire in the charcoal again using the small pieces of wood.
  7. Keep a fire going for at least an hour.
  8. After an hour, pull out the clay with tongs and scratch the side with the tongs or a sharp stick. If you don’t see any marks, then the clay is fired.

This method of firing your clay takes more time, but it can be done entirely at home using items you probably already have. You’re spending less money, or if you have to buy a charcoal grill, you’re making an investment for future clay projects.

Also interesting: Best clay for sculpting.

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