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Cracking casseroles. Why?

The cracks happened on heat up (since they have opened up wide). A combination of issues contribute. The kiln shelves heat-sink the wide flat bottoms, vessel walls are thick, there is some unevenness of wall thickness and only a 30-minute hold at 220F to remove glaze water from the bisque (that could have left dampness in thicker sections). Factors like these combine to produce temperature gradients within the piece. The firing schedule rose rapidly from 250-2100F (400F/hr) amplifying these gradients as it climbed. At quartz inversion these gradients produced a wave of volumetric change moving through the bisqued piece and this likely initiated a crack where stresses met at a combination sharp-contour and thickness-change, the bottom corner.

An upside down cracked casserole dish

Links

Troubles Body Cracking and Dunting During Firing
Ceramic industry can fire much faster and deal with much heavier objects than potters can, how do they do it. The answer is they pay more attention to the basics, it is all common sense and good equipment.
Glossary Quartz Inversion
In ceramics, this refers to the sudden volume change in crystalline quartz particles experience as they pass up and down through 573C. Fired cracks are often related to this.

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