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Pottery/Clay Thickness for Chimenea


I made a chimnea from red clay with 1mm grog, - very rough clay about 1cm thick.
A) Is it better to turn the clay thicker than 1cm?
B)To glaze the chimnea on the outside only can it withstand the heat better to have less chance to crack?

Dear Marion,

    Thank you for your recent question. The clay thickness for a chimenea depends on the area in which they will be used. The chimenea originated in Mexico and was designed to keep a family warm with little fuel and to keep the rain off the fire. Therefore, when a chimenea was made in Mexico, it was made from the pit clay found near the casa (home) and was made for outdoor use. The thickness of a chimenea is roughly 1.9 cm or .75" to 3.81 cm or 1.50" thick, however, a thinner chimenea clay will work, but will have to be handled with more care than one of thicker clay constructions.

    A truly crafted chimenea is seldom glazed but for decorative purposes, a colored slip is often applied. This is because glaze often inhibits the transfer of heat from the walls of the chimenea, whereas slip is made from the clay body in which the chimenea is constructed and therefore is just as though a thin layer of clay is applied to the outside.

    To prevent a chimenea from cracking, always start a very small fire inside the chimenea. If the temperature outside is extremely cold, cover the chimenea with a heavy blanket for several hours to warm it before lighting a fire. Gradually build the fire inside, allowing the chimney to heat as well. To determine when to add additional burning materials, the chimney should be as hot if not hotter than the belly of the chimenea, then it is safe to add fuel.

    If you choose to glaze your chimenea, it is best to do it only on the outside, but glazing is only done for decoration and does not lessen the chance of the chimenea cracking. Cracking comes from intense temperature changes, from extreme cold to extreme hot. The key to keeping the chimenea from cracking is to not go from one extreme temperature to another.

    I hope this helps you. If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me at any time. Always at your service. Good luck!

Ms. Ti Phillips
Earth Stoke 'N Fire Pottery Studio and Artist Retreat


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Ti Phillips


Will answer any questions on hand building, wheel, glaze, firing. Speciality questions to include those in glaze calculation and development, firing techniques. Please do not send questions on identifying pottery. Although I would love to add this to my question topics, I have a retreat to run as well as the studio and volunteering on AllExperts, and therefore do not have the available time to research indentification and marks. Thank you for understanding.


Experience includes 30 years in pottery design and education. Have taught online and studio classes worldwide for the last 20 years. Own a pottery retreat specializing in firing techniques. Have 12 years solid experience in glaze calculation and formulation as well as problem solving in glaze chemistry. I am the first potter in the United States to have developed a complete package of pottery equipment blueprints for a studio. The blueprints include wheels, kilns, studio furniture, wedgeboards, raku kilns, slab rollers, ball mills and studio tools.

Alliance of Pottery Artists Worldwide Association

Ceramic Industry - PPP Wyndstryder Press - Pottery Journal

University of Sciences and Art's of Oklahoma, studied under Professor Jaymes Dudding.

Awards and Honors
Potter of the year with APAWA, various awards for showmanship and design.

Past/Present Clients
Available upon request.

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