Glass FusingGlass Fusing - Buying the Right Kiln

By Phil Gillespie | Submitted On July 20, 2008

People often ask, 'Can I fuse glass in a pottery kiln?' The answer to that question is yes, but ceramic kilns are usually much deeper, designed to hold larger items and to stack several layers so fusing glass in them is usually extremely inefficient. It's a bit like warming a sausage roll in a blast furnace. It'll do the job but it's over kill!

The first issue to look at for glass fusing kilns is size. You'll know the types of items you want to produce so care must be given to the size of the internal firing chamber. Smaller kilns, such as the Paragon SC2 are perfect for smaller items such as glass jewellery but are too small for larger items such as tableware and decorative glass items for example.

The larger the kiln, the lmore power you'll need to run it. UK domestic power sockets can run upto about 13 amps so smaller to medium sized kilns such as the hotstart pro can be plugged directly into the wall. Larger kilns run from 30amps or more of power so require a breaker to be fitted by a qualified electrician to your fuse box. A line is then fed to the position of the kiln and a 'cooker type' switch is fitted with the lead for the kiln running directly to the switch. In order to qualify for insurance the work should be certified (check with your insurance provider about coverage).

Small to medium kiln will run an average firing for between 14p- 50p each with larger kiln averaging £1 plus per firing. Always ask the retailer for average running costs so you don't get a shock when you get your next power bill!

The next issue to look at when buying glass kilns is exactly how does the kiln open and where the heating elements are. This is very important as some kilns will allow you to work inside the kiln when it's on, some won't and this is largely dependent on the position of the heating elements within the kiln.

Kilns are usually divided into two kinds- top loading or front opening.

If you want to be able to work inside the kiln when it's on- for example to make glass bracelets on a mandrel, you need a top loading kiln (such as a firebox) so you can get access. You must however make sure the heating elements aren't located in the lid of the kiln (for example hotstart pro) otherwise it's going to be very hazardous and hot!

Heating elements located at the top of the kiln- provide more even heat and reduce the need for second firings. Some kiln work might be difficult though.

Heating elements located at the back of the kiln- will heat slightly unevenly so items placed nearer the element will have a more rounded appearance. This can be a bonus though, allowing you to produce several types of item in one firing. Some warm glass work, ie bracelet forming can be tricky though due to the uneven heating.

Heating elements located around the sides of the kiln- will generally heat evenly (usually with a slightly colder spot in the centre) and are great for warm glass kiln work.

Important things to look out for!

Does the kiln have a pyrometer?- Essential to monitor the temps in the kiln.

Does the kiln have a controller?- Not completely necessary for smaller kilns although strongly recommended as it'll enable you to program firing scheduals to suit as well as learn how to use the kiln effectively.

How much do it cost to run? Ask and average cost per firing.

How large is the firing chamber?- You may be better off in the long run getting a larger kiln which can produce the same amount in one firing as a smaller kiln can in 5 firings.

What are the outer dimensions of the kiln? Will it fit!...Remember to allow approximately 6-12 inches around the kiln as they do get hot (duh).

What's the power req? Up to 13 amps is fine for domestic UK supply...more than 13 then consult an electrician.

For more information regarding all aspects of glass fusing and warmglass work, visit []

Dichroic glass Jewellery


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