Glass Fusing Kilns

Glass fusing kilns are used to make fused glass items, it is the largest single investment a home glass artist will undertake. Careful consideration should be given to the final kiln selection to ensure that current and future needs are covered.

Glass Kilns come in a variety of sizes and types from a range of makers. In the US they are either 120 volt or 240 volt. Many 120 volt kilns are designed to be plugged into standard household outlets.

Some kiln makers supply 220/240 volts units for international customers. Many of these models are designed to plug directly into normal household outlets.

Before purchasing always check the makers specifications to ensure the 120 volt glass fusing kiln can be can be plugged into your standard 13 amp household outlets. Larger 240 volt kilns will require a separate circuit because of their heating requirements.

If in any doubt consult a local electrician for advice on electrical requirements.



What Size?

If you are mainly interested in making fused art glass jewelry or small tiles, a kiln with a dimension of 6” up to 12” will be large enough. You may think you want to produce larger fused glass art items such as plates, bowls, ornaments etc. Perhaps a medium size kiln would be better, 12” to 16” may suit your needs.

Many glass fusing kilns are also suitable for enameling, precious metal clay (PMC) & some limited ceramic work. Again, you need to check the maker’s specifications.

My advice would be to purchase a smaller kiln to practice your skills in kiln formed glass and move to a larger one later on. Small kilns are better suited to fused glass art jewelry making and they are also good for small draping and slumping projects.

Delphi Glass has a range of Table Top Kilns for home art glass jewelry making as well as for general glass fusing.

Glass Kiln Design

There are varying glass fusing kiln designs available today from different makers.

Many models are top loading with a hinged lid. Some have removable tops whilst others are hinged at the bottom.

Front loaders have a hinged door on the front for access to the interior, not unlike a small safe.

Front loaders have a hinged door on the front for access to the interior, not unlike a small safe.

Some models have heating elements in the sidewalls and in the lid. Others have them in the sidewalls only and some have an element only in the lid.

Polygon top load kilns can handle a wide range of products.

They can be a safety hazard for artists who wish to manipulate hot glass, opening the lid will release hot air directly at the user.

Interior kiln insulation may be firebrick(this is a lightweight refractory ceramic material), ceramic board, ceramic fiber blanket or sometimes a combination of these materials.

They can be ordered with a viewing window in the door, lid or side of the unit. A bead door can also be fitted that allows the annealing of glass beads.

Kiln Controllers

Many small kilns have an infinite control switch, which is like the control on an electric stove.

They have a probe called a thermocouple inside the kiln, connected to a gauge known as a pyrometer outside the kiln to enable you to see and set various firing temperatures.

This setup requires you to monitor temperatures whilst you are glass fusing to ensure that the firing schedule is correct.

Other kilns have a digital controller which allows you to program the unit to automatically run the firing, fusing and cooling cycles without the need for additional adjustments.

They usually have the ability to contain a range of programs to cover the type of firing cycles needed.

Before purchasing a kiln check to see if there are any glass studios or classes in your area where you will be able to try art glass fusing and possibly rent kiln space and tools.

Many instructors are only too pleased to help you in your kiln choice.

Operation And Maintenance

Most kiln makers will provide you with a detailed operations and maintenance manual.

The manuals will advise you on the steps you need to take prior to your first firing.

You will be taken through the information you need to carry out glass fusing and other fusing techniques where applicable, such as precious metal clay,ceramics and enameling.

All aspects of the kiln controller and the firing steps will be covered.

Firing Log Book

You should record details of of your various firings in a log book for future reference.

The following items should be recorded:

Date

Firing temperature, speed, and hold, or the ramp/hold program

Starting time

Total firing time

Type of piece

Firing result

Electrical wiring diagrams are also supplied along with trouble shooting details for most aspects of kiln operations. Details on changing heating elements is also supplied.

Testing and changing electronic components information is usually supplied.

On some units the elements are enclosed in the ceramic firing chamber requiring the chamber to be replaced if the element is faulty.

Replacement parts are available by mail. I have an Evenheat and a Paragon kiln and have found the service from these companies to be excellent.

USEFUL LINKS
Paragon Kilns
Skutt Kilns
Evenheat Kilns
Jen-Ken Kilns



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