Tuesday, 28 February 2017

I Have A Kiln!

I've been enamelling with a torch for a few years now and always thought getting a kiln was out of the question. There were several reasons for this... my work shed is very small and I didn't have a place where the kiln could sit....I was worried about the heat from it...and of course the cost.

Then I started thinking that the end of the financial year is getting nearer and that I'd like to spend some of my profit on equipment for my jewellery business rather than giving it to the taxman :D
That combined with the dawning that I didn't need a permanent home for a kiln, just somewhere safe to put it while I was using it, started to change my mind.

I researched kilns and decided the Prometheus Pro 1 would be perfect. It's small - less than 12" in width, height and depth and light enough to move easily. It's also small enough to sit under my jewellery bench when I'm not using it and not get in the way of my feet. The firing chamber is small though - just 7cm high and 11.5cm wide by 13cm deep. Although a larger firing chamber would be nice it's big enough for what I want to do. It's not programmable but there are various options on the digital display. It's simple enough to set the temperature you want using the arrows and the mode button but as for the AL1, AL2 {which I assume are alarms}, OUT, AT and another set of letters that I can't remember now, unfortunately the instructions don't explain what they are and how to use them..........
Luckily for enamelling I just need to be able to set the temperature so I'm not too worried about them.
I already had trivets from enamelling with a torch but I have had to buy some other equipment specifically for using in a kiln. A kiln shelf to go on the bottom of the kiln, reducing that 7cm height by a bit more {!}, trivets with bases that you can slide a kiln fork or pallet knife underneath to lift it into and out of the kiln, kiln goggles to protect my eyes from the infrared rays put out by the kiln and some leather gloves to protect my hand from the heat. I also bought a cheap builders trowel for lifting the trivets with but it was a bit wide so I've since bought something more suitable.
The trivet on the right is one I've used for torch enamelling and the one on the left is a new one for using in the kiln.
Counter enamelling an earring using the new trivet.
It is possible to fit two of the other style trivets in the kiln using a pair of pliers to grip one of the "wings" of the trivet to move it but even with a glove on it is very hot and probably not the best thing to do. I do now have a double trivet with a base so that will let me fire two items at once and get it in and out of the kiln more safely.

When I'm using the kiln it sits where I normally solder ontop of a tile and a soldering board on my bench. As for the heat you can feel on the outside body of kiln - the top does get hot and the sides and back get warm to the touch. I guess the bottom gets hot too but obviously I can't check that. Once I've finished using it I turn it off and leave it there to cool down until the next morning then I shift it out of the way if I need to do some soldering.

Using a kiln for enamelling is definitely a learning curve! Whereas the firing temperatures of enamels didn't matter when I used a torch as you can see what is happening and stop when you reach the right stage of firing now they are very important. I need to know what temperature to fire something at and for how long. There is a ventilation hole in the kiln door you can look through but with small items you can't really see much so it's a case of trial and error - opening the door and checking.

When I'm using a torch I normally don't fire a piece fully until the last enamel layer and I will do the same with the kiln. That's when I get a bit better at temperatures and timings and things..... :D
As I'm planning on doing a lot more enamelling with ideas for little enamelled copper trinket dishes and small bowls in the future I decided to give my enamels pride of place on the shelf. They were previously kept in tins and plastic boxes, then they moved to three drawers where I was having to do a lot of scrabbling about to find what I wanted so now having them on one of my shelves makes life a lot easier.

I've already moved some of the enamels in this photo onto the top shelf and have another shopping list of enamels to get from WG Ball very soon. I've ordered quite a lot of stuff from WG Ball recently and although I want to order the enamels right now I'm waiting a while so they don't think I'm a bit odd keep ordering stuff every few days :D
Not that there's anything wrong with being a bit odd.

I have made a few pairs of enamelled earrings so far in the kiln but I became so engrossed in it all and didn't take many photos. I do want to blog about making earrings in the kiln so next time I will remember and take the photos.

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  1. How exciting! I look forward to all the amazing things you are going to bake in the kiln! After taking a pottery class I thought how cool would it be to have a kiln? You will be able to do so much more with it.

  2. Congratulations! Fuego is the name of my kiln. I just started using him again after 2 years. I've forgotten how much easier it is with a kiln then a torch. Each has its pros and cons. :D

    1. I must think of a name for my kiln too :D I do agree about each method having its pros and cons.

    2. Yes! I name everything. My SUV's name is Exploder. That's because he smokes sometimes and makes me wonder. LOL!!! Have a great day Cinnamon!

  3. YAY! You totally deserve it! It's so cute. I plan to get one in the next yearish as I would love to do bigger pieces that a torch just doesn't work for. Love how you have your enamels stored - it would be really inspiring to see those colours every time you sit at your bench :)

    1. Thanks Em, it is better having the enamels out. I have become slightly obsessed with enamelled bowls though :D


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