Can you attach real sea shells on ceramic pottery then fire it?

Question: I want to make a vase with real sea shells on it from the beach. Is it possible to attach them then fire them in the kin for bisque firing then again for the final glazed firing?

Answer: Not that I'm aware of... but I've never tried it. There are two potential problems when firing foreign objects in your pot.

One, is shrinkage rates. The clay might shrink at a different rate than the sea shells causing something to break or crack. If you tested the the shrinkage of a particular sea shell you could theoretically solve that problem by finding a clay with a similar shrink rate.

Two, is firing temperature. Put simply, your sea shells might melt or burn up at high firing temperatures. Again, I've never tested this, but it's a concern.

Any one out there tried using seashells? We'd love your input.

See some great pottery by Mark Anderton
with agates fired into them (at least I think they're fired in....)

Thanks for the question,

Steve

Comments for Can you attach real sea shells on ceramic pottery then fire it?

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Feb 29, 2016
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Shells in firing NEW
by: Anonymous

Technically, no. You will not be able to use a shell on a pottery vessel and then fire it, with the expectation that the shell will remain in tact and in place, for several reasons (shrinkage rates and the shell will burn out). However....shells are frequently used to prop up pottery vessels during wood firings, this keeps the vessel off the shelf and leaves a gorgeous shell indent in your work. Usually oyster and scallop shells are used for this. A natural glaze forms on the vessel due to the high amounts of ash settling over it, the shells minerals help to add some texture and shape into this glaze forming process.

Apr 25, 2014
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Attaching shells
by: Lorraine

To put on your shells, maybe try this....to leather hard clay press the shell to make an imprint and remove (if need, use pin pricks to make the outline. One to pottery if fire use strong glue to glue the shells in the matching area.

Jan 07, 2012
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sea shells in pottery
by: Anonymous

Hello I am a new potter and this seemed like a good idea to me so I tried it. NOT! It doesn't work the shell becomes very brittle and cracks really easily. It also can change color to a dark yuk color. Most of the time they pop off no matter deeply embeded. At least that was my experience.

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