Mastering the Pottery Firing Process: Unleashing the Power of Holds for Perfect Ceramic Results!

In pottery firing, the “hold” is a crucial phase where the temperature is maintained at a specific level for a designated time. This article aims to demystify the hold’s significance, exploring its transformative power in the creation of pottery.

The hold allows for glaze melting and bonding, color development, atmospheric control, and optimal heat work. By understanding the intricacies of the hold, potters can unleash limitless artistic expression and achieve durable, captivating pottery. This article invites readers to embark on a journey of discovery, revealing the secrets and artistry hidden within the embrace of the hold.


What is a Hold When Firing Pottery?

When firing pottery, the term “hold” refers to a specific phase in the firing process where the temperature is maintained at a certain level for a designated period of time. This phase is often referred to as a “hold” or “soak.”

During pottery firing, the hold serves several purposes depending on the type of clay and glaze being used. Here are a few common reasons for incorporating a hold:

  • Glaze Melting and Bonding: When using glazes, a hold allows the glaze to melt and fuse properly onto the clay surface. It gives the glaze materials enough time to reach their melting point and form a strong bond with the pottery.
  • Color Development: Some glazes require specific temperature ranges and hold times to develop their desired colors. The hold phase allows the glaze to react with the heat and mature, resulting in the desired color variations and surface effects.
  • Reduction or Oxidation: In certain firing techniques like raku or reduction firing, a hold can be used to create specific atmospheric conditions inside the kiln. By adjusting the airflow and controlling the oxygen supply, potters can achieve reduced or oxidized effects on the clay and glaze. The hold phase is crucial for stabilizing the desired atmosphere and allowing the reduction or oxidation reactions to occur.
  • Heat Work: Heat work refers to the cumulative effects of temperature and time during firing. By applying a hold at specific temperatures, potters can ensure that the clay and glaze receive the necessary heat work to achieve the desired results, such as proper vitrification (the transformation of clay into a glassy state).

The duration and temperature of a hold can vary widely depending on the specific requirements of the clay, glaze, and desired outcome. It is essential to follow recommended firing schedules and consult specific guidelines for the materials being used to determine the appropriate hold times and temperatures.

How Does a Hold Work on a Kiln?

Kiln holding is a process used to stabilize the temperature of a ceramic kiln over an extended period of time. During the kiln hold, the temperature of the kiln is maintained at a set point for an extended period of time. This is done to ensure that the clay, glaze, and other materials in the kiln have time to properly mature and bond.

The process of kiln holding begins with the firing of the kiln to a pre-determined temperature. This temperature is typically lower than the temperature used for glaze firing. Once the kiln has reached the set temperature, the kiln is held at this temperature for a period of time, usually between 12 and 24 hours. During this time, the temperature of the kiln is closely monitored to ensure it is not rising or falling too quickly.

Kiln holding is important to ensure that the materials in the kiln have time to properly mature and bond. It also helps to reduce the risk of warping or cracking due to rapid temperature changes. Finally, it can help to reduce the amount of energy used during the firing process, as the kiln is held at a lower temperature for a longer period of time.

How to Perform a Manual Kiln Hold

  • Preheat the kiln to the desired temperature. This temperature should be slightly lower than the temperature required for the firing cycle.
  • Place the pieces to be fired in the kiln and close the lid.
  • Set the timer to the desired hold time. This will depend on the type of firing you are doing and the size of the pieces.
  • When the timer is finished, turn off the power to the kiln.
  • Allow the kiln to cool down to the desired temperature. This can take several hours.
  • Remove the pieces from the kiln.
  • Inspect the pieces to make sure they have been fired correctly.
  • Turn the power back on to the kiln and resume the firing cycle.

In conclusion, a hold when firing pottery is an important step to ensure that the material is heated evenly and thoroughly. The length of the hold will depend on the type of material being fired and the desired results. As long as the kiln is programmed correctly and the material is given enough time to cool slowly and naturally, the pottery should turn out just fine!

A hold is an important step in the process of firing pottery. The hold involves maintaining the temperature in the kiln at a certain level for an extended period of time. This allows the clay to become vitrified, meaning that it becomes dense and impermeable. Depending on the type of clay and the desired outcome, the hold will vary in length and temperature. During the hold, the material of the pottery is allowed to reach its maximum level of maturity, ensuring a strong, durable finished product.

Monica Rosales

Hi there! My name is Monica and I am absolutely thrilled to be writing about all things pottery. As a lover of the art myself and a pottery class enthusiast, I have found my passion in sharing the beauty and creativity of this craft with others. With my experience in pottery classes across the U.S. and a keen eye for reviewing pottery-related products, I am excited to bring you informative and exciting content about everything pottery. Let's get our hands dirty and dive into the wonderful world of pottery!

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