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Cone 10 or Cone 6?

One question that is sometimes asked of me is whether to fire to cone 10 or cone 6. Their are a million other blog posts or article written and I'm just going to write another one. But at least you will get my point of view. The answer is really about aesthetics and investment. I have concluded that I want and enjoy doing both.

So lets start with cone 10. Most anyone who is going after cone 10 firings is usually going to be outside of the education setting. Money (fuel) is no object and you need a little extra time after all. Most cone 10 firings are after a few things. The extra heat and most often reduction. Not a lot compares to cone 10 reduction. You can simply create some amazing effects that amount of heat and lack of oxygen produce. I have a personal love affair with rutile and ash. Pretty much every glaze I work with will use either of these components.

I feel that high fire potters are also a bit more technical. Firing to cone 10 requires extra knowledge about gas firing and possibly wood firing systems. These same potters often build their own kiln to reduce cost and learn a lot about fire in the process. They also learn a lot about reduction cycles and what it takes to manipulate glazes for specific effects like color, texture and crystallization.

Their are definitely some of these potters who have chosen to fire cone 6. Mid fire pottery has always been a little lackluster to me. But what it lacks in difficulty, it makes up for with its simplicity. Firing an electric doesn't require the additional monitoring and babysitting a gas or wood kiln need. Most people who have an electric kiln can fire to cone 6 and possibly to cone 10. 6 is at least a given for any pottery kiln. This makes it a lot more accessible to beginners and hobby potters. Electric firing is much more hands off. You can set your controller and fire and forget, within reason anyway.

Another downside are the materials that you need to have for each type of firing. You will almost certainly double your requirement for glazes. The 10 pails of cone 10 glaze will now be 20 pails of glaze with each of your respective favorites for each temperature. It just means you need more space, need to invest more time and money into glazes and manage another process.

With that being said, ill admit that I do both. More out of necessity than anything else. My gas kiln cools too fast in winter and I can fire the electric indoors. Its a good balance and allows me to keep making pottery regardless of the weather.


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