Ceramic kiln with manual controls (low, Med, High) - WarmGlass.com

Ceramic kiln with manual controls (low, Med, High)

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MollyFrey
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Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:12 pm

Ceramic kiln with manual controls (low, Med, High)

Postby MollyFrey » Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:40 pm

I'm new to glass fusing and I thought I found a good deal for a kiln on Craig's List, so I bought it (not smart). It has two temperature controls that read (low, Med, High). I did buy a pyrometer so I can get a more accurate temperature reading.

I have not tried fusing any glass yet, but I do have some glass bottles I thought I could practice with.

I guess my question is, is it even worth it to spend a lot of time trying to figure out this kiln, or should I just count it as a loss and purchase a glass kiln that has a programmable temperature gauge?

Thanks for any information,
Molly

Emily Will
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:08 am

Re: Ceramic kiln with manual controls (low, Med, High)

Postby Emily Will » Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:52 pm

Molly -

I'm not sure about the ceramic part of this equation, but I have two small kilns (one Evenheat and one Olympic)
that have manual controls. They have a couple more choices that just lo-med-hi, but it is all manual. The good
part of this is that I have been forced to learn a lot about what is going on in the kiln at each temperature. Both
kilns have little viewing windows, which I love, but you can just peek quickly (with the IR glasses) if you don't have
the window. My next kiln will be a bigger and have a controller, but for starting out and small projects, I have been
very pleased. So, I would experiment some first before giving up. Someone else may have comments about the
"ceramic" part of the question.

Emily

MollyFrey
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:12 pm

Re: Ceramic kiln with manual controls (low, Med, High)

Postby MollyFrey » Sun Aug 10, 2014 6:26 pm

What I mean by "ceramic" is that it has the heating coils in the side, none in the top.

So do you have to sit by your kiln and constantly monitor the temperatures?

Emily Will
Posts: 27
Joined: Fri Dec 14, 2012 1:08 am

Re: Ceramic kiln with manual controls (low, Med, High)

Postby Emily Will » Sun Aug 10, 2014 9:59 pm

Molly -

Both of my kilns have elements only in the sides, not in the top. So, I don't think that alone
makes them "ceramic,"

The first time I ran each kiln I started at the lowest setting and watched each one very carefully to
get some idea of how hot it would get, and how long that would take, at each setting - keeping a record of
that information. Essentially I have one routine for fusing pendants, a different routine for fusing bigger things like
tiles or bowl blanks, another routine for fire polishing, and one for slumping. Of course I vary if there is some special
reason like using extra thickness of glass. Anyway, at this point I know, for example, that for pendants I want 25 minutes
at #4, 25 minutes at #5 and 20 minutes at High in my Evenheat kiln. So I just set my iPhone timer for those time periods
so I am reminded to check the kiln and switch the dial at the appropriate times. I can't go off to the store during that time,
but with a small kiln we are only talking about 1.5 - 2 hours of cooking time before I can unplug and let it cool. Which I forgot
to mention - typically I just turn the kiln off after the process is done and let it cool (unvented) at it's own rate. With a small kiln
you can get away with this.

Emily

The Hobbyist
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Re: Ceramic kiln with manual controls (low, Med, High)

Postby The Hobbyist » Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:08 pm

The only difference between a ceramic kiln and a glass kiln is indeed that one has elements in the lid and the other doesn't.

Without a controller to regulate the firing you will have to "sit beside it" and monitor the controls to get the ramp and process temperatures you want. A controller does that for you.

You can add a controller (stand alone) to your ceramic kiln and the low-med-high settings will be no problem.

I now have ten kilns both ceramic and glass. I began with a ceramic kiln and pyrometer just as you are. I believe it is the best way to begin because it forces you to get a feel for the integration of time and temperature to achieve a desired fusing process. Eventually I, and probably you also, moved on to using a controller for it's convenience. But it is merely a convenience and not a necessary.

Truth be told I prefer my ceramic kilns because they never shed debris onto my glass.

Jim "The Hobbyist"
"With or without religion, good people can behave well and bad people can do evil; but for good people to do evil—that takes religion. " Steven Weinberg

MollyFrey
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Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:12 pm

Re: Ceramic kiln with manual controls (low, Med, High)

Postby MollyFrey » Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:14 pm

Thanks for that explanation. I will try this. I don't really know what temperature "Low", "Meduim", and "High" are translated into.

Molly

MollyFrey
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Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:12 pm

Re: Ceramic kiln with manual controls (low, Med, High)

Postby MollyFrey » Sun Aug 10, 2014 11:17 pm

Thanks to the both of you for giving me hope, haha. I thought for sure I just flushed money down the drain by buying this kiln. I will have to try your suggestions this weekend when I have the time to sit with the kiln.

Joe Lorenzino
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Location: Swift Current, SK. CANADA

Re: Ceramic kiln with manual controls (low, Med, High)

Postby Joe Lorenzino » Tue Aug 12, 2014 9:28 pm

My first kiln was an ancient 8 sided paragon that I got for $50 from a ceramics shop that was closing out. It had 2 Low-Med-Hi switches, and no kiln sitter.
To use it for glass, the first step was to BUY A PYROMETER, add 1" stilts below the bottom shelf, and drill a hole to place the pyrometer probe in a good location above the shelf. Then I started logging firing tests to get used to the kiln's natural heating & cooling rates. After a while, you develop a kind of feel for how to set the kiln switches, and how long to leave them on. BE used to have a very good pamphlet on setting up, and testing a kiln for evenness of heat across the shelf that was great for finding out what a kiln would do when firing. All tests and regular firings got written down in a log book that became the BIBLE for that kiln's operation.

The next step was to change out the pair of original 4 position (off-low med- hi) switches, and wire in 4 infinite heat switches from a kitchen stove. A bit of electrical gymnastics, but well worth it for my process.This allowed for individual heat control on each element ring in the kiln, which is a VERY nice feature for controlling deep drops, and gave more finesse when manually annealing and firing down. Again, firings are logged for future reference.

After the Glass conference in Vancouver, a Digitry GB1 controller & mercury contactor were added to automate some kiln operations.( All pieces before that were manually fired, while working a full time "day Job".) The GB1 controls kiln temperature as a "whole unit", but still allows use of the individual ring switches, and has a manual override switch wired into the main contactor. It is also set up on old school guitar plug, so it can be moved around to run other kiln contactors that I have equipped the same way.

I guess what I am saying is Any kiln that runs,is safe, and has a pyrometer can be used to start fusing glass. The more primitive it is, the more you are going to learn about the glass fusing process, as it will be very "hands on" by necessity. If the kiln works well, it can be upgraded by adding controls, etc. to it later. By then, you should be able to program a controller very effectively, because you will have done everything manually before.

Good Luck & Happy Fusing
Vitreous Insomnious: Glass cannot sleep?? Oh Oh..... Does this mean I am going manic again??

Stephen Richard
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Location: Glasgow, Scotland
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Re: Ceramic kiln with manual controls (low, Med, High)

Postby Stephen Richard » Sun Aug 17, 2014 5:04 am

The low, medium and high settings control the speed of heating. In actual fact they normally control the percentage of time the power is on. You can achieve any desired target temperature with any of these settings. It will take longer on low than medium.
Steve Richard
You can view my Blog at: http://verrier-glass.blogspot.com/

MollyFrey
Posts: 10
Joined: Sun Aug 10, 2014 5:12 pm

Re: Ceramic kiln with manual controls (low, Med, High)

Postby MollyFrey » Sun Aug 17, 2014 6:56 pm

I practiced on several bottles last night. It looks like they turned out all right. It was a very long process, I should have started much earlier, haha. It was harder to keep a constant temperature once it reached the peak level.

One of my little bottles fell on the bottom is now stuck. I guess there's no way to get it off is there?

Molly


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