Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Paper clay and Glazing

A student from my recent paper clay workshop asked me this question about paper clay and glazing. Anything you create in paper clay can be bisque fired. After this stage, all the paper has burnt out and the piece acts like any other piece created with a traditional clay body. It will take low fire glazes, hi fire glazes, raku glazes, and underglazes.

One of the advantage of paper clay is that you are able to apply glaze to your greenware piece and take it directly to a mid-range (Cone 6) or high fire (Cone 10) without having to do a bisque fire first. This is due to the tremendous greenware strength of paper clay at the bone-dry stage. The piece being very "thirsty" at this stage will suck up the glaze without any trouble. This uses less energy (either gas or electricity) and is more economical.

I had a greenware piece fired to Cone 5 (gas fired), bypassing the bisque stage without any problems. The art center where I teach and do all my firing does two firings in their big gas kilns - one at bisque and the other at Cone 10 reduction. If you have your own kiln, you may opt to try the one-firing method.