Jump to content

Outdoor Sculpture In Earthenware--Best Body?

Recommended Posts


So, I'm planning on making two gargoyles to protect my home. Sadly, my kiln is a tired old man and only likes to fire in earthenware. Anyone here have experience with this? I was thinking a heavily grogged terracotta that is fired to ^03 might be my best option, but I'm not sure. The statues will not be glazed, as South Dakota winters are lethal to glazed ware!! :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If your kiln is electric, and only reaching those temps, because of age, why not replace the elements?


In regards to the Earthenware sculpture, if you found a way to seal it, the sculpture would better be able to survive. The ceramic's absorption of water, which will then freeze, is the concern. So either do a lot of testing and find a glaze that fits almost perfectly, as to seal the ceramic, or perhaps use some type of concrete sealant. The other option is to either cover the sculptures in the Winter, or bring them inside.


Also Gargoyles out in front of your house, I like your style.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Glazed ware would survive better than unglazed. When water soaks into the piece and freezes, it cracks it apart from the inside. Your goal is to keep water from soaking in at all, which means either glazing the piece or firing it hot enough that it vitrifies. Cone 03 terra cotta will not do it, but many terra cottas will go up to cone 3 or 4 and get quite tight. If your kiln will only get to earthenware temps then it needs to be fixed. You're wasting a lot of electricity even if you're just firing to 03. Ideally you want to fire with a fine grained clay that vitrifies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I learned the hard way that outdoor ceramics need to be fired to at least cone 4 to survive harsh winters--and definitely glazed or taken indoors before the first hard frost.  Kudos on the gargoyle at the front door.  Style points!



Gotta find some way to keep the demons away right?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Regardless of the clay body -- earthenware, stoneware, or porcelain -- you need to fire it to vitrification to reduce the absorption of water. You'll need to go higher than 03 for earthenware as the clay remains too porous and very absorbent at that temperature. You will also want to keep the gargoyle from being directly on the ground/step/whatever so that water doesn't pool around the base and get absorbed. A location where there is overhead protection would be ideal for protecting against breakage.


I'd think a clay with multi-sized clay particles would work best for outdoor work -- so if water is absorbed and frozen, the water has a variety of openings between the clay particles in which to expand/contract. A clay body with only one size particle would not offer much room for expansion/contraction . . . and resulting in cracking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks, everyone! One reason why I work in earthenware us because my kiln came with a blank ring, and my back is far too screwed to remove it. Another reason is that it is cheaper to fire in low temps than mid-range.The final reason is that my whole studio is set up for lowfire work. It would cost a mint to replace everything...

Okies, the gargoyles will be outside for late spring, summer, and early fall. :) And, yes, this is of spiritual significance. In the Dakotan countryside, there is a lot of dark energies present from all the horrible things that happened to the Natives there. The Medicine Men arevery busy around the Rez...some of the stories they tell can give you nightmares for weeks! :(


I hate my phone--sorry for all the errors!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 months later...

This is Chip Clausen's Freeze proof terra cotta. It is surviving on the grounds of the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana.

Chip Clauson's Freeze Proof Terra Cotta

...................Batch .........%

Hawthorne Fire Clay 20 ............9

C and C Ball .......50........... 21

Red Art ...........100 ...........43

Talc ...............15............ 6

Muddox Grog........ 50 ............21

.5 Barium Carbonate


Sorry about the formatting but it was the best I could do.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, my reason for moving to South Dakota ditched me to go work for the CIA, so I kinda shattered like a vase thrown on concrete. Stuck in eastern Washington, broken-hearted and broken-walleted. I'm making a rabbit out of terracotta--not very scary, but I am hoping it turns out well enough to sell. Gonna make it talavera in my own way. :3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 5 years later...

Check out what other poters are doing re ouside sculptures.

Prob hewn out of solid granite:-))

 I have a sister who makes many clay thinbgs for her garden. Not sure she uses anything special. Her teacher is Julian Jardine from Perth. He makes amazing sculptures

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.