Abstract Partial-alkoxide (PAR) and all-alkoxide (AAR) routes for preparing stoichiometric barium osumilite (BaMg 2Al 6Si 9O 30) have been developed. Sintering to 89% (PAR) and 86% (AAR) of the estimated theoretical densities are achieved after 1 h at 1150 and 1100°C, respectively. Both types of gel are amorphous after calcination for 5 h at 650°C. Crystallisation of gel powders using a constant heating rate of 10°C/min starts at approximately 980°C with mullite for PAR and hexacelsian for AAR as the first phases to crystallise. Barium osumilite initially crystallises at 1000°C and becomes the dominant phase after 3 h at 1200°C. The presence of celsian, hexacelsian and cordierite are, however, unavoidable even at high temperatures, and isothermal crystallisation of the gel powders for 1 h at 1250°C does not result in single phase barium osumilite.