Can you fire pottery without glaze?

While glazing is a popular technique in ceramics to enhance the appearance and functionality of pottery, it’s entirely possible to fire pottery without applying glaze. Firing unglazed pottery, also known as “bisque firing,” has its own advantages and creative possibilities. Let’s explore the reasons behind firing pottery without glaze and the potential outcomes of this approach.

Bisque Firing

Bisque firing involves firing pottery to a specific temperature before glazing. This process has several purposes:

  • Strength and Durability: Bisque firing transforms raw clay into a more durable and solid state, making pottery less prone to breakage or damage.
  • Surface Preparation: The bisque firing removes physical and chemical water from the clay, preparing it for glaze application.
  • Glaze Adhesion: Unglazed bisque-fired surfaces provide a porous and stable foundation for glaze to adhere effectively.

Unglazed Pottery

Firing pottery without glaze can result in pieces with a unique aesthetic:

  • Natural Look: Unglazed pottery showcases the natural color and texture of the clay, providing an earthy and rustic appearance.
  • Decorative Possibilities: You can decorate bisque-fired pottery using various techniques, such as painting, carving, or adding ceramic decals.
  • Functional Use: Some pottery forms, like planters or decorative objects, may not require glaze for their intended purpose.


When firing pottery without glaze:

  • Ensure proper bisque firing to achieve the desired strength and stability.
  • Choose clay bodies suitable for unglazed use, as some clays may be too porous or fragile.
  • Experiment with decorative techniques to enhance the visual appeal of your unglazed pottery.


Firing pottery without glaze, or bisque firing, offers a range of creative possibilities, from showcasing the natural beauty of clay to exploring various decorative techniques. By understanding the benefits of bisque firing and considering your artistic goals, you can create unglazed pottery that is both visually appealing and functional, adding a unique touch to your ceramic repertoire.

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