AskDefine | Define saggar

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative spellings


Uncertain, possibly a contracted form of safeguard.


  • (US) /ˈsæg.əɹ/
  • (UK) /ˈsæg.ə/
    Rhymes: -æɡə(r)


  1. A ceramic container used inside a fuel-fired kiln to protect pots from the flame.
  2. Fireclay used to make ceramic casings.



Extensive Definition

Saggar firing is an alternative firing process for pottery. Saggars are boxlike containers made of high fire clay or specialized fireclay which are used to enclose pots needing special treatment in the kiln. The word "saggar" is thought to have come from the word "safeguard." Historically, reusable saggars were used to protect or safeguard specialized glazes from open flame, smoke, gases and flying ash present in wood fired kilns. This technique was used to protect the surface of pottery in ancient China, Korea and Japan, and was popular in the industrial potteries of Great Britain. Saggars are still used for industrial ceramic production, shielding ware from variations in heat and kiln debris.

Saggar ware as art

Clay artists and craftsmen during the late 20th and early 21 centuries experimented with saggars to create decorative ceramic pieces. In contrast to the traditional use of saggars, modern artists use the containers to concentrate the effects of salts, metal oxides and other materials on the surface of their ware. In addition to the use of clay ware as saggars, some studio potters bundle pots and burnable materials within a heavy wrapping of metal foil. This technique works particularly well at low firing temperatures, as metal foil begins to burn away between 800 and 900 degree C.
Some pots may be carefully prepared for saggar firing. One method creates a smooth surface covered with clay slip, terra sigilata, refined to remove larger clay particles, which responds particularly well to the saggar technique. This slip covering may be burnished to achieve a gloss. Prepared pots are nestled into saggars filled with beds of combustible materials, such as sawdust, less combustible organic materials, salts and metals. These materials ignite or fume during firing, leaving the pot buried in layers of fine ash. Ware produced in filled saggars may display dramatic markings, with colors ranging from distinctive black and white markings to flashes of golds, greens, and red tones. The texture of the pottery surface may also be altered by ash and salt deposits. Porcelain and white stoneware clay bodies are ideal for displaying the striking patterns obtained through saggar firing.

See also

The revival and alteration of saggar firing methods is echoed in the modern adaptations and use of other traditional pottery processes, including:
  • low-temperature pit firing,
  • adaptions to the Asian technique of raku and
  • the use of salt and soda compounds as glaze elements.


  • Hamer, Frank and Janet. The Potter's Dictionary of Materials and Techniques. A & C Black Publishers, Limited, London, England, Third Edition 1991. ISBN 0-8122-3112-0.
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