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Single Fired Ceramics

Usually ceramic beads are fired two times.  The first firing is called the bisque firing and the second the glaze firing.  Recently the idea of just firing one time came up on the BOC Yahoo group.  Can it be done?

Turns out firing twice is a rather new idea in the long history of ceramics.  This is partly true because the first ceramics were unglazed ware.  Glazed pottery and small artifacts date back to the 5th Millennium BC.
They were only fired once.

Two firings for ceramics is relatively new, dating back to the 1700's in Europe.

All the above info comes from Fran Tristram's book Single Firing.  This is a great source for information and history about single fired ceramics, which clays to use, how to match glazes and much more.  Since ceramic beads and pendants are small, single firings are much more likely to be successful and produce beautiful results, with much less loss, than larger more complicated pots.

If you make single fired ceramic beads and/or pendants, please chime in and leave a link so we can see what you make.  Thanks so much.


  1. 99.9% of what we are making is double fired, but there are cases time to time when a deadline for shiiping of some order is running on us, and for some reason there are 2-3 items that are not ready. In such cases we are taking the risks of the single firing those few items, but usually we are making some spare quantities, just in case. What we like about the glaze firing of bisque fired items is the constant quality that you can reach this way, that's why the single firing will be always only a "Plan B variant" for us.

  2. Thanks so much for your helpful comment Vlad. I think that is an important point: single firings tend to be less predictable than the contemporary method of a bisque and glaze firng.

  3. I am adding this comment from Natalie Fletcher-Jones since she couldn't get it to go on. Thanks Natalie for writing in. Very helpul info.

    Natalie Fletcher-Jones I was just asking about this same subject in our Yahoo BOC group last week. I'd had a rush order and decided to have a go with a single firing to save some time, and it worked perfectly for me. I was using Japanese Tissue Transfer paper. ... Its fine on greenware or bisque. I used a Gare clear gloss glaze over it and was very pleased with the results. I'll definitely be incorporating single firings into my routine from now on, quicker, easier, and a bit more friendly on the old electricity bill and environment :)

    1. I have read Fran Tristram's book -Single Firing, and thought it was interesting. However, the book is not very clear as to timings etc. My kiln is a programed Nabertherm Electric. I have tried contacting Nabertherm, but they have not been very helpful as to how to single fire from green to glazed, especially about the holding period.
      I have now filled the kiln with glazed and unglazed pieces of stoneware, and am impatient to start.
      I would be most grateful if anyone out there can offer advice.

  4. Hi Mary, apparenly a lot of hard work goes into creating cermic beads and the end results sure are worth it, ceramic is my new favorite component because each and every piece is unique.
    take care ttfn Lana :)

  5. One thing I can say if you are using porcelain and you have thin pieces like 1/8 inch or less especially if they are flat single firing with glaze is not a good idea. I do lots of miniatures mostly poured and mostly quite thin and I've had plates turn inside out if they are not fired at least cone 3 before glazing. I've had pieces as thick as 1/8 inch bend up in the middle (like an upside down bowl) when only bisqued to about 019. So if you are doing thin pieces I recommend trying one or two first at the very least.

  6. I've been single firing, almost exclusively, for several years. Except for the decal work, which has been fired twice, all of the porcelain and stoneware on these pages has been single fired:

    This group of mid-range potters has a very active single firing contingent, sharing experience generously:


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