menu000.gif (3416 bytes)
menu007.gif (4331 bytes)


frame005.gif (5528 bytes)

Bisque / Porcelain
Cooling Kilns





.Can anybody explain the difference to me between a bisque
> firing and a porcelain firing?

BISQUE is any form of fired, unglazed, ceramic. This includes stoneware and earthen ware, that both fire at a lower temperature than porcelain, and this is probably what the manufacturers were referring to when they mentioned lower # cones. (Ceramics used for ornaments, cups etc, are one type of stoneware.)

Porcelain is sometimes referred to as bisque, because some of the old dolls were glazed before they were painted, and were known as china or Parian dolls, although they were still made from porcelain.

Stoneware and earthenware remain porous when fired, which is why they were glazed to make them watertight, and so useful for kitchen and dining ware.  Porcelain, because of its high firing temperature, vitrifies during the process (turns glass-like) and is waterproof and translucent. I assume that it is glazed for plates and cups etc, because it is more decorative, and easier to clean.
Hugs, Alison from Accrington

A bisque firing is a the long firing that turns your greenware into porcelain. Your book is probable talking about bisque firing of ceramics which is a shorter time than Porcelain. They are both Bisque firing.
SharonD -


Slip is the liquid form of any clay. SFGW is Soft Fired Greenware.  Which means that the greenware is fired to cone 18 (china paint firing) it makes it shrink 1/2 of the amount to porcelain. It also makes it harder and brittle. Some people like to clean SFGW because they a can wet clean it, No dust! I have tried it and could not stand it. I couldn't stand to have my hands in water all day. I would rather wear a dust mask all day.
Michelle Geoffrion-Mahler


A few answers to questions :0)The "bisque" firing is the first firing to cone 6 or get your greenware porcelain pieces vitrified (to hard porcelain state). The "china paint" firing is to cone 018 . The china paint firing is lower temperature just to set the paint. My little china paint firing kiln does it in 12 minutes. My bisque firings take about 4 hours  (kilns vary). A "glaze" firing is when you put glaze on the porcelain and fire it at cone 05 or so to get a glazed china doll...This is a slippery surface to paint on, but fun to do...i.e. a "china doll" would require 3 firings.
MIB means "mint in the box" referring to collectable dolls still in original boxes.

Soft fire cleaning:
Soft firing for wet cleaning is a technique that I had to learn to do when I was taking my Seeley Apprentice and Teacher accreditation exam, and I thought at first that I would never get used to it...but I did, and now I wouldn't use anything else! The first,  soft firing to cone 017, or 018 is to harden the greenware, so that it will not dissolve when you put it in water to clean it. It should only take about an hour to fire to this temperature. Make sure that any holes are cut in the wet, or leather hard stage. They can be cut in SFGW, but the risk of breakage is higher. To wet clean: Take the soft-fired greenware, and immerse it in water. After about 5 minutes you can start to clean, using the same tools and equipment that you do for dry cleaning. The main difference is that by using water, you scour the dust off as a paste, rather than dust which flies into the air, however hard you try to contain it, and it DOES NOT GO INTO YOUR LUNGS! Or whichever members of your family happen to be passing by. Keep rinsing the piece in water as you work, and when you think you are done, let it dry until the sheen has gone off it, and check it again for scratches and details. Keep the greenware damp, or damp it again before it goes into the kiln, and fire to cone 5 or 6 (I prefer cone 5 for such small pieces that have been soft fired) Leave the bung hole open for the first hour, to let out the steam, then bung it and let it rip! The firing time is the same as it would be for firing dry cleaned greenware, because the kiln still needs to heat the greenware up to the same temperature.  Have fun, and good luck.
Alison from Accrington

Wet Cleaning Method
About wet cleaning, I have tried so many methods over the years. Dry cleaned for years with a dust cabinet, which is fine, though noisy with the  motor humming in your ears. Tried soft firing, which is fine, but when I pour  really tiny dolls that have to remain solid, their heads pop off when I try  to soak them in water after soft firing...No lie , I thought I had turned into a poltergeist first time this happened...I heard all these "pop pop pop's" coming from my pan of water. Now I have finally landed on....Ta with brushes and water on dry greenware. Let the greenware dry after pouring, Use soft white taklon brushes to clean. Actually I use a wet nylon stocking to take seams off, and smooth with brushes dipped in water...Then I either put the greenware in the kiln damp or let dry..depending on if I am in a hurry (as usual).......

Wet Cleaning Method
I usually do a quick cleaning on my greenware in the leather hard stage .... when it is dry, I stick a cone 018 in my kiln ... gently toss in the green ware and let her go to temperature on high .... I have a big kiln and it takes about 2.5 hours.  When it is cooled, I do a final cleaning after soaking the greenware in water. It can soak for as little as 5 or 10 minutes but doesn't come to any harm if you leave it longer.  The tools I use are a pink/white scrubbie, cut into a tiny square, soft brushes, x-Acto knife and soft tips tools ... If you worry about the water, just use rubber gloves.. the kind doctors use... Because Silicosis is a very painful disease, and we have huge airborne allergy problems here, I would never dry clean... but I get wonderful results fromcleaning soft-fired greenware.  It takes about the same time to fire it to maturity... I know with larger dolls some people fire to a cone 06 and re clean again and then to cone 6 . After it is cleaned you can put the soft-fired greenware in the kiln either wet or dry. If it is wet, you must vent it in someway for a while. I've heard you can putleather hard in the kiln and soft-fire it wet too, if you follow the same venting precautions. I haven't done it though, so can't tell you if it is an accurate report. I can't think of why you would soft-fire and then not clean it before high firing it, unless you were soft-firing it to prepare it for shipping. properly packed, most soft-fired greenware will survive the rigors of the postal system.....

Priska, different kilns take different "stuff!" My AIM kiln takes the little bars or rods....... I have a kiln sitter, etc., on I set it and forget it. I love the little bars/rods. It doesn't take cones! Go with what your manual for your kiln says! USE ONLY THOSE THINGS THAT THEY RECOMMEND!
Michelle Mahler

Cooling kilns
I have a huge tip for cooling kilns. I have learned this the hard way because I always rush it. Leave your peephole plugs in but lift the cover of the kiln a crack!!. That way the cool are is not draw in through the peepholes and over your porcelain making it crack. It is just gently rises as heat should. But do not open you kiln after a bisque firing for several hours then start by opening the lid a crack, leaving in the peepholes plugs. There is nothing worse than a "PING" of cracking porcelain when you rush to cool it. But I must admit even after years and years that I still get a thrill when I open the kiln and take out those pcs of porcelain. It is always amazing to see the transformation. I love it!!
Michelle Geoffrion-Mahler

Porcelain Crack tip
If you are experimenting with attaching porcelain arms/legs right to a porcelain body (in greenware stage) and after firing, it cracks just a little...try rubbing a bit of Sculpey III into cracks and baking. The cracks all but disappear making the doll useable.**NOTE** this is using Seeley's French Bisque porcelain and the beige Sculpey III.

Porcelain - Broken
A thin line or drop of Zap-a-Gap (super glue) takes care of it quickly. Just a little bit, you don't want it to ooze out but enough to cover the whole surface of the break. Set aside to dry (if it's a curved arm prop it up on a tissue) and it's good as  new! I only buy porcelain kits myself (have no talent or resources to make my own porcelain, I can only make dolls myself from polymer clay) so saving broken ones is very necessary. Reeni

Small Kilns
There is a company called Aim. They have the size kiln you are looking for.  There's is the first one I bought. This one will fire to porcelain as well as paint fire and soft fire. This one is not too small. But, it is no where as big as the others. The real small ones, are used mostly for quick firing.  You can probably look them up on the internet. I hope this helps.




Dana of Miniature Art
Visit Dana's site
Specializing in Dolls of Romance

Please report any broken links to Annie

Graphics by

frame014blank.gif (11853 bytes)

frame016blank.gif (11873 bytes)