How to Fire Pottery in Your Oven

Affiliate Disclaimer

As an affiliate, we may earn a commission from qualifying purchases. We get commissions for purchases made through links on this website from Amazon and other third parties.

You want to get started with pottery, but you don’t want to spend a ton of money to begin. Well, you can actually start by firing pottery in your oven.

If you’ve been curious about how it’s done, and want some tips, tricks and so much more, then look no further. In this, you’ll learn how to fire pottery in your oven so that it comes out beautiful, and so that you can use it.

Can You Fire Pottery in Your Oven at Home

Are you interested in creating your pottery at home? Firing pottery in an oven is a simple and cost-effective way to bring your creative vision to life. Polymer Clay is the type of clay best suited for oven firing, and with a bit of patience and practice, you can create beautiful and durable pieces that can be used for gifting, decorating, or even kids’ crafts.

You can bring your pottery to life in just a few easy steps. First, preheat your oven to 325°F, place your clay piece on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes. Once the clay project has cooled, you will have a finished product that is sturdy and durable. Though the finish may not have the glassy or shiny look of traditional pottery, the simplicity, and affordability of oven firing make it an excellent option for anyone looking to explore the world of ceramics.

You can also read our article on this which goes into much greater detail if you can fire your pottery in your home oven over here Can You Fire Pottery In Your Home Oven?

Why Fire in Your Oven?

You might wonder why you would want to fire in your oven. After all, with the way it’s done shouldn’t you just get a kiln and do it like that?

Well, firing pottery in your oven is a great first step because it allows for many benefits. Some of them include the following:

  • You can learn the basics of making pottery without having to learn the technicalities of firing
  • You can get a basic feel for firing in your oven
  • You can make basic pottery shapes with this
  • It’s much cheaper, both in terms of firing medium and the clay that’s used
  • You already have an oven, so why not try it?
  • If you have children, this is a good way to teach them

Ovens are a good firing medium for those looking to start pottery. That’s because it has the following properties:

  • They are already available unless your home doesn’t come fitted with an oven
  • You’re working with pretty beginner clay, so there is more room for errors
  • You can learn the firing process and how to master that
  • You can make some easy pieces that are durable

Even without a kiln, you’ll realize that ovens are a great way to fire because they do the job of a kiln quite easily, and you don’t have to worry about potentially firing or the chemical dangers of firing in an oven.

The Limits of Firing

There are a few limits to firing in an oven, however, and they are important to know.

The reason why is that you should make sure you choose the right media to fire in an oven, and that includes the type of clay that you choose to fire within the oven.

Some of the limits to firing in the oven include the following:

  • You can’t get it very hot
  • There won’t be chemical changes like with a kiln
  • You won’t create that “glassy” look as much
  • You won’t need to glaze
  • You don’t have to spend 12 hours firing one piece

With oven-firing, you’ll probably spend a few hours max. most ovens can’t get higher than a thousand degrees when the average earthenware is fired at around 1200. So, it’s definitely not as hot.

Now, we mentioned the firing process for clay in the oven. When you fire a piece of clay in a kiln, due to the fact that it gets super hot, there are chemical changes that happen.

These chemical changes cause the following:

  • The glassy look of pottery
  • Creates shine and sheen that might not otherwise be there

With an oven-baked piece, you won’t get that, and that’s because it just doesn’t get hot enough to do that. You need to be near 1600 degrees Fahrenheit, at least for those changes to happen.

So, I wouldn’t say that this is ceramics in a sense, but it kind of does have the same properties as ceramics.

However, there is a certain temperature range for a particular clay type that should never be used for firing. So, the following is given the temperature range that you must avoid while firing.

Clay type Temperature range to avoid
Low-fire clay Above 1800 – degrees Fahrenheit
High-fire clay Above 3000 – degrees Fahrenheit

Basic Firing Process

The process to fire a pot in an oven is pretty basic, and here, we’ll discuss how to do this, and any other considerations you’ll need to take.

  • First, touch the clay pot and make sure that it does feel dry. Make sure that before you put it in an oven, you do make sure that it’s totally dry when you touch it.
  • Take the pot and put it on the center rack upside down as needed. You might need to adjust the rack so that everything is aligned.
  • Some people like to put a baking sheet down if they need it, but that’s a bit of an extra step, and not totally needed.
  • Set your oven to 325 F, and from there, bake it for about 30 minutes.
  • Turn the oven off, and remove the pot with the potholders.
  • Put it on a heat-resistant surface and let it sit for about 3-4 hours until it’s totally cooled down
  • Decorate it as needed.

When you fire pottery like this, you’ll notice that it’s incredibly basic compared to say, some of the more in-depth types of firing that you may have to do.

However, that has the benefits of the following:

  • It doesn’t take much work
  • You’re not working with incredibly hot and dangerous temperatures
  • It is pretty easy to heat everything up and let the oven do the work

I do suggest that, if you’ve been curious about pottery firing and want to try it in a conventional oven, this is the way to do it, and do take some time to learn and master the art of this so that you can get better with time with this project.

No Water Allowed

Now when you do make a pottery piece and fire it in the oven, I do suggest making sure no water is on this.

But you might wonder if there isn’t water on this, what will happen if there is?

Well, the oven isn’t like the kiln and it doesn’t fire the pieces at a leather hard stage, but it has to be dry. This is because of the following:

  • The water won’t be able to escape, so it will be pressurized
  • It won’t be able to expand either
  • It will then crack the piece in the oven

This isn’t what you do not do obviously unless you’re going for cracks in your art that look pretty and artistic. So, make sure that before you begin the firing process, you take some time and let the piece dry.

A Thermometer for the Oven

Thermometers for the clay are something that you might want to consider purchasing. These are typically small thermometers that you can either have in the clay or in the oven.

Some of them even attach to the top of the oven.

The reason for this is simple, and its the following:

  • It helps with the accuracy
  • It makes sure that you’re not eating the clay to the point of melting it
  • It also prevents your clay from possibly seeping or being affected by too high of a temperature

Some people also like to add parchment paper or cardstock to the baking sheet or the bottom. Again, this is up to you, but you’re working with tiles, this can help with the following:

  • Makes it easier to remove
  • Allows for a baking surface that won’t ruin the oven

Again though, this is something that you can figure out for yourself, and if you’re considering firing clay in an oven, this is one of the big things that can help with your success.

The Clay You Should Use

Pottery art can be absolutely engaging and addictive if the right material and equipment are available. And undoubtedly, clay and a kiln both play crucial in the world of pottery. However, since clay needs to be fired at very high temperatures and kilns are expensive, many people don’t indulge in pottery.

However, if you are a pottery lover and hesitating to try out your hobby just because of a kiln, then there is good news for you. There are many clays that can be fired at home using regular ovens. People who are passionate about pottery art and looking for clay that can be fired in a home oven should go through the following recommendations.

When choosing clay to use for oven-fired pottery, I do suggest getting Sculpey or something that is basic polymer clay.

Some properties of polymer clay that are worth noting include the following:

  • It’s relatively easy to shape basic structures with this
  • You can’t bake it in a super hot oven
  • They usually can’t be food-safe, since you can’t apply hot glazes to there
  • They don’t need to be baked for super long
  • It will create almost a shine or a sheen when you take it out

If you know this, then you’ll definitely be a lot happier with the way your clay ends up looking.

Now, when choosing the right type of polymer clay, you’ve got the following choices:

All of these fall under the Sculpey brand, and they each have a different set of factors to them.

You can grab Sculpey here off Amazon,SuperSculpey Original oven-bake clay.

Original Sculpey has the following properties:

  • You can only get it in white and terra cotta, so only for those types of plates or materials
  • They are soft and mushy, hard to sculpt, and even when cured, they break
  • These need to be used in thin pieces, and they aren’t ideal for pots and pans

Super Sculpey has a bit of a different set of textures to it, and they are as follows:

  • They are made for sculpting
  • Only come in a flesh tone
  • Only used for sculpting figurines that won’t be handled otherwise
  • They darken during baking, so keep that in mind

Sculpey II is another type of polymer clay, and it involves the following:

  • It’s the first American polymer clay, so it comes in every single color
  • Has limits in usability
  • Feels more like play-doh than anything in texture
  • Is very brittle after it’s baked

If nothing else, I suggest trying out Sculpey II in order to get a feel for working with clay.

You can also read the Reviews of Sculpey on Amazon by clicking here.

Premo Sculpey is another versatile clay, and it has the following properties:

  • It’s a great all-purpose clay
  • There is a debate on this being the best polymer clay brand
  • It holds the shape and details extremely well
  • Very easy to condition
  • Super flexible and strong
  • Comes in a full range of colors, including metallic and pearl

The best thing about this is that it’s quite easy, but always make sure to buy from a supplier that’s reputable, since this can become quite crumbly if it is old.

Fimo is another good brand, and it has some other benefits to it that, if you’re thinking of not using Sculpey, you might want to check out.

They include the following:

  • There is a kid’s professional, and all-purpose clay
  • It is available in many colors
  • It is pretty easy to work with, but it will stiffen up on the shelf but it won’t get as brick-hard as others
  • Maybe a little bit more crumbly than other options

There are other types of polymer clay that you can use, but here’s the thing: for the purpose of learning how to fire pottery, these are your best options because they have the following properties:

  • Are cheap, are generally easy to work with
  • Don’t involve a lot of work
  • Generally doesn’t have a ton of tricks to it

Also, have a look at the pros and cons of using polymer oven-baked clay before proceeding:

Pros  Cons
It is available in a wide array of colors. Depending on the baking time, the end result may vary.
Offers proper shape while curing Comparatively expensive
It gets cooked easily on short notice. It needs extra additives like glue, surface finishing, etc.

So yes, clay is a great thing to have, and choosing the right one will help you with your endeavors

Baking Clay in Oven Instructions

If you’re using Sculpey, there are a few things you should know. For other clays, you should look at the instructions.

With Sculpey, keep the following in mind:

  • For the original, bake it at 275 for 15 minutes for each ¼ inch of thickness
  • For Super Sculpey, do the same thing
  • For Sculpey 3, you’ll want to do the same thing, however, make sure you test the curing on this with your fingernail to make sure that you get enough of a firing done
  • For Premo Sculpey, you want to bake for 30 minutes for every inch of thickness

Generally, the instructions are the same for most, but knowing each of these will definitely help with your firing needs.

Firing bisque in the Oven

You can fire the Bisque that you have in the oven, but you’ll want to make sure that it does have clay that can be fired here. How you do it is the following:

  • Inspect your pottery to make sure there aren’t any cracks, dents, or dirt and dust, along with wrinkles and holes
  • Let the piece air dry to almost full dryness before the oven
  • Preheat to 250 and let it sit for 10 minutes empty
  • Put the pottery in the oven covered in baking paper. Have the object standing the same way it will be when done
  • Leave this at 250, or if needed, a little higher depending on the clay
  • Don’t set it higher when it’s already inside since the object might crack
  • If you set it too low, it won’t dry as well
  • Let it dry and fire properly, anywhere from 25-90 minutes depending on the thickness
  • Turn off the oven and let this cool
  • Open this up, and let the bisque cool before you move it to a piece of baking paper and let it cool completely
  • Always make sure that with the bisque ware, you don’t add any glazes and such since the bisque is being used only for decoration
  • Always make sure that you use mitts in order to protect your hands
  • Never check the temperature of pottery with your bare hands, unless you want to burn yourself.

This is a simple way to fire your bisque. If your pottery piece needs more time, then let it sit, but you won’t need to fire it for hours on end like with traditional kiln firing.

Additional Tips for Baking Clay in the Oven

Here are a few tips for you to get better at baking bisque pottery:

  • If you need to add more time to the piece, always make sure that you add at least 5 minutes at a time
  • Always check the accuracy of the thermometer before you start so that it works. Baking the clay in the oven is quite a sensitive task and needs to be done correctly to avoid accidents. Measuring the oven temperature using a thermometer thus helps with better results a proper control of the temperature.
  • If an object has a thickness variance, it should be shaped so that the thick parts are “bulked out.” Nevertheless, it is better to opt for evenly thick pottery pieces as it is essential to fire the greenware from everywhere. Using variably thickened pottery is going to be challenging to control as one place is going to stay adequately cooked and the other one raw.
  • You can use aluminum foil to support this, but ideally, try to keep the clay even and thick. Covering with aluminum foil serves as a temporary solution. Also, it offers better insulation. Thus, using the foil to wrap in various places while firing the other place might help you in multiple ways. However, try to even it out.
  • Layering the clay is the way to prevent cracks, and maintaining most sculptures helps in various ways. Proper layering offers better protection from uneven heat distribution. Simultaneously, it contributes to the even heating from everywhere and accurate firing, which is needed to achieve maturation in the clay.
  • You should make sure that you put some aluminum foil over this if you need to add an armature on this.
  • Don’t try to overbake unless that’s what you want from it since it will cause the clay to darken. Dark clay is not going to look good. Also, over-baking will lead to clay cracking, which is not expected. Ensure the proper baking up to the suggested time in the instruction area of the clay packet. Baking for 1-2 hours is enough for most of the clays. However, many clays can require more time. So don’t forget to check the instruction area.
  • If you end up burning the clay, you’ll notice the darkening and bubbling, potentially melting as well. That is why you should refrain from using the over-firing schedule for the clay that you are using.
  • Don’t ever set it too high since it can cause your piece to crack. Just like too low temperature is not going to bring the proper maturation for your clay, too high a temperature can ruin your clay’s texture. When you put it for firing, make sure you are using the only suggested temperature for the particular clay you used. Or else too much temperature is going to shrink the clay, which leads to breaking.
  • Ensure the proper drying of your greenware before putting it inside the oven. The high-level heat does not go compatible with too much moisture on the clay. Even if a low amount of moisture is present in the clay, it will lead to the accidental breaking of the pottery. You must not encourage such accidents. That is why make sure you are drying your clay pot until it becomes bone dry. Even the leather-hard pottery comes with a bit of moisture in it that you can feel with the cool sensation in your hand if you touch it. Let it sit for more hours until it becomes completely bone dry.
  • Never skip the pre-heating! While firing using an oven, you must take care of the factor that you are pre-heating the oven properly. We have discussed the pre-heating temperature and time in the earlier paragraphs. You can use that heating range to warm up the oven, or else placing your pot inside a cold oven and letting it heat is going to break your pottery. It is important to preheat the oven for 10-1 minute to ensure the proper firing process.
  • Let the oven become cool before bringing the fired pottery out. The oven door’s sudden opening lets the hot pottery get exposed to a high amount of temperature fluctuation. Ceramic wares are weak enough to bear such a quick temperature change. And this is why it is essential to let the oven become dry fast, then carefully open the door to bring out the ceramic – ware to save it from any unnecessary cracking or breaking.

These are the main tips that can help you with putting together some great pottery pieces that you’ll love

Cautions with This

Oven-fired pottery does come with a few important cautions that will help you with preventing damage to your hands, body, and the like. Here are some of the major cautions you should be worried about.

  • If you feel the heat from the piece, don’t try to touch it
  • Don’t let a piece sit in an oven for longer than needed
  • Use the fingernail test on a piece only if you know that it’s cooled down
  • Don’t leave your oven unattended. Yes it’s an oven, but don’t leave it to sit and bake without at least someone at home
  • If you notice the piece bubbling or burning, get it out immediately
  • If you notice it cracking, turn off the oven and let the temperature come down before you remove it
  • If you get it wrong the first time, don’t be upset because this isn’t the easiest thing to do
  • Don’t rub your eyes or touch your mouth after handling clay. While it is non-toxic, it still shouldn’t be ingested by people
  • Make sure that you are not using a regular kitchen oven is not at all recommended as it cannot reach above the 1000-degree Fahrenheit
  • Make use of a pair of gloves while handling the pots in the oven

Oven-fired pottery is a skill that most of us are always trying to get better at, and if you’re able to get a feel for this, usually learning this over time will help with preventing these dangers from happening.

Proper Care of the Oven-Fired Pottery

 The oven-fired pottery does not meet a kiln’s high enough temperature, which leaves it fragile and weak enough compared to kiln-fired pottery. Thus, the over-fired ceramics require the proper maintenance measures to ensure the longevity of your hard work. How do you care for and maintain oven-dried pottery? Have a look:

  • Your oven-dried pottery is not going to be hard enough to bear with the temperature range of a microwave oven. It is good to keep away the handmade oven-dried pottery from the microwave oven, or else it can get cracked inside the oven.
  • Refrain from using the dishwasher for cleaning the oven-fired pottery. The dishwasher deals with many utensils at one time, and this can lead to the breaking of the weak oven-fired pottery pieces. Consider cleaning the pottery pieces using the simple hand-wash method with dishwasher soap.
  • It is good to use mild dishwasher soap rather than harsh detergents. Even if you are using detergents, consider a minimal amount, which is not at all going to be a harsh one. Also, keep those products away, which can leave a stain on the pottery.
  • Avoid oven-fired pottery bumping against the other pottery items. While working with your oven-fired pottery, stay as much aware as you can. Also, refrain from putting them roughly on a rigid surface.

How to Decorate

Finally, we have the decoration of your pottery once you’ve finished firing it. Here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Don’t decorate until you know the piece is finished
  • Don’t decorate before firing
  • Don’t decorate until you know the piece is cool enough to touch

Otherwise, you are at risk of ruining your piece, and you don’t want to let that hard work go to waste, right?

To decorate your pottery, you’re given a lot of different means, and some of them include the following:

  • Painting with acrylic paint
  • Sponge painting a design onto there
  • Using different stamps to stamp a design onto there
  • Using household tools in order to create impressions on the piece
  • Adding different attachments, including metals, jewels, or whatever
  • Gluing stones to this pottery
  • Adding pipe cleaners and little pom pom balls to the ribbed edges

If you’re painting a piece that looks more like a sculpture, you can always paint it to look realistic. This is kind of the fun part of this since you’ll be free to do as you please with this, and that’s something that a lot of people love about this, and it’s something that people do enjoy when they’re making pottery.

Remember, while you won’t be able to add fancy glazes to this, that’s fine. The object of these isn’t to be food-safe, but instead to create wonderful, decorative pieces that you can show off, and they make the perfect gifts.

Next time you’re stumped for a gift, try giving pottery for the following holiday:

  • Birthdays
  • Mother’s day
  • Christmas or any winter holiday
  • Father’s day

Or virtually whatever holiday that you want! The limits of this are endless.

When you’re looking to give someone a great gift, or if you want to start trying your hand at pottery, I do suggest trying to oven-fire pottery. This is a good beginning and a great way to start with this.

Remember that, as you get better you can always invest further into this to take your pottery skills to the next level.

Latest posts