Pyrometric cones measure heat-work (the effect of time and temperature).
Orton Pyrometric cones are slender pyramids made from about 100 carefully controlled compositions. Each cone number is unique in measuring temperature within a small temperature range (less than 30°C). Cones measure the amount of heat absorbed. As the cone nears its maturing range, it softens and the tip begins to bend, drawn down by the influence of gravity.
The Large and Self-supporting cones are used to measure temperature uniformity and/or if there was sufficient heat-work done to mature the ware. Cones indicate whether the ware received an adequate amount of heat-work to properly mature the clay or glaze. A properly fired cone will bend over with the tip of the cone almost touching the shelf. After firing a kiln, a simple glance at the cone can tell if the firing was successful.
The only true measurement of heat-work is from a Large or Self-supporting cone placed on the shelf next to the ware.
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