Saggars are boxlike containers made of high fire clay or specialized fireclay which are used to enclose pots needing special treatment in the kiln. Historically, saggars were used to protect specialized glazes from open flame, gases and ash present in wood fired kilns. This technique was used in ancient China, Korea and Japan, and was popular in the industrial potteries of Great Britain. The name itself derives from a contraction of safeguard
Saggars can also be used to nestle pots down into beds of salts, sawdust, metal oxides and other combustible materials. These materials ignite or fume during firing leaving the pot buried in layers of fine ash. Potters choose to produce ware in filled saggars because of the resulting dramatic black and white markings -- with occasional flashes of color and texture. Porcelain and white stoneware clay bodies are ideal for displaying the striking patterns obtained through saggar firing. This unique finish, only lightly controlled by pot placement and saggar ingredients, presents a challenge to the potter's design sense.