I have used nichrome wire in my clay forever, and not just for little ornament hangers either. This high temperature wire has been the structural element in hanging my Vine Series and the material that brings playfulness to my Sprout Series. On my most recent project the Umbel Series, I realized that I was going to need a lot more wire than I’ve ever used before, like 1000′ of wire. It was a little intimidating to order so much wire but I think the results will be worth it.
High temperature wire is a really fun material to be able to use in the raw clay and fire in the kiln without it melting. I really encourage you to play with this material in your own work and see where it leads you. Please share your results, I’d love to see what you come up with!
Here’s where I get my wire from if you’ve like to order some for yourself: National Art Craft
21 thoughts on “Nichrome Wire & Clay”
I want to make legs for chairs, beach chairs and table chairs, for little paperclay (pottery) figures. What gauge and suggestions do you recommend? The figures will be 4-6 inches tall. Thanks.
14 gauge will be sturdy enough but you might want to go thicker for aesthetics. Hope that helps!
Does kanthal wire get permanently embedded in the ceramic after firing or can it wiggle out?
Generally, it is stuck in there permanently but if the hole around it is big enough, you could potentially wiggle it out. Hope that helps!
Can you fire nichrome wire to cone 10 in a gas reduction kiln?
I have fired it to cone 6 in a salt reduction kiln and it held up fine and I have fired it to cone 10 in an electric and it was fine, so I would guess that you can do a cone 10 reduction but I would definitely test it first. Hope that helps!
Hi, I have made some ceramic beads, to become earrings and pendants. I didn’t know you could actually make the clay objects with the metal inside them!! As I thought that would crack the clay, as it dries and shrinks around the wire. Can you help me understand how that does not happen, please? In the future I could possibly make the earrings with the wire already embedded in the clay? So, my current beads however, have holes through them. I want to hang them off some wire in the kiln, during the glaze firing. Is Nichrome wire suitable for all the above uses? What gauge wire would I need, to hang them from? I’d hate to go too thin, and the wire warp and droop, dropping the beads onto the kiln shelves during firing! Or, to buy a wire that’s too thick, so it won’t go through the holes 😬 Any help you can give me in this matter would be amazing. No one at my ceramics group is familiar with firing with wire/metal
I have an online class that will answer all your questions, here’s the link:
Hope that helps!
Hello, I just came across this article as I recently started experimenting with high temp wire in my pottery. After firing, the wire looks a little stained/matt, is there a trick for keeping the wire shiny or polishing it after it comes out of the kiln?
Yes, the wire oxidizes in the firing process, which is what you are seeing. It’s only on the surface so you can scrub it off and make it shiny again with steel wool/sandpaper/other abrasive or grinding it, but it’s going to be tedious. There may be a solvent you can dunk it in to break down the oxidized surface but I don’t have any experience with that, so you might need to do some testing. Hope that helps!
Thank you, Jenni!
I made some small and large poppies for my garden. How do your metal rods support your umbi pieces? Do they just sit on top or do you need to epoxy?
Yes, I just sit them on top of steel rods. You can epoxy them on if you want to but if you want to move them, you won’t be able to hammer the steel rods into the dirt, just a thought… hope that helps!
Jenni I’d like to use it to support a bird with a purpose-made hole underneath, during glaze firing, so I can glaze all over. Is there a way to work out what gauge wire you need for a certain weight of clay? I tried it & the wire bent & the bird stuck to the base. It’s just a tiny bird about 1-2” long. Thank you 😊
You’ll need to make or buy some kiln stilts for your birds and then you can rest them on that during the glaze firing. You can attach your bird legs afterwards with epoxy or other adhesive. If you want to make your own kiln stilts, here’s a link to my step by step video: https://www.jenniward.com/video-how-to-make-your-own-kiln-stilts/
Hope that helps and let me know if you have more questions.
can you use the wire in ceramic jewelry to hold a chain?
Yes, check out the photos of the ceramic beads on the Trinket Necklaces that I have in my online shop. All the wire loops on the ceramic parts are nichrome wire. Have fun experimenting!
Did they use Nichrome wire in pottery in the 1980’s???
I’m going to guess that yes they did since it’s the material electric kiln elements are made from but I was only 3 in 1980, so my ceramic career had hardly begun! ; )
Can I ask what gauge wire you use so it still holds it’s integrity after firing (at cone 6).
Many thanks, Karen
Hi Karen, I believe that I use 14 gauge wire, but you can also get them precut here: https://www.nationalartcraft.com/subcategory.asp?gid=10&cid=172&scid=1539
They last quite a few firings to cone 6, but eventually they do wear out. Hope that helps!