Reduction Firing in an Electric Kiln

The aesthetics of reduction pottery has always been favorable with its bright reds and flashing tones of color. To achieve these results a gas kiln is required, which many potters may not have access to. In this article, there are three different experiments using an electric kiln to achieve reduction-firing results.

I have been working with cone 6 crystalline glazes for the past nine years and I always find myself experimenting with new techniques and ideas concerning the crystals. My biggest asset for learning new ideas and techniques about crystalline glaze is Ceramics Handbook: Crystalline Glazes by Diane Creber. This is where my inspiration came that led me to my latest experiment.

I was reading a section of the book that mentioned a secondary reduction firing for crystalline glazed pieces. This peaked my interest as I like both the look of reduction and crystalline and loved the idea of them together. The studio I currently use has gas kilns, but they are large and need to be filled in order for them to be fired. As this was an experiment I did not want to chance too many pieces at once. Recently our studio at the University of Delaware designated an old electric kiln (a Bailey up loading 3.3 cubic ft) specifically for experimentation using any method, techniques, and glazes. I decided that I would use this much smaller electric kiln to try the secondary reduction firing for crystalline glazed pieces.

When I saw this result, it came to me: Why do we need to fire in large gas kilns to create reduction-fired copper coloring? This led to my other experiments in mimicking reduction glaze results in an electric kiln.