11 August 2018

The Fear of Buying your First Kiln

Don't sweat it!  We've got you covered.

From glass to pottery, heat treating to annealing... we have handled thousands of questions that revolve around buying your first kiln. So, we thought we would share our favorite nuggets of advice from some of our most frequent questions.

Q1: I am considering buying my first kiln. The choices and information seem overwhelming as they all look so similar. How do I know which one is right for me?

It can be an instant information overload. We think that choosing a kiln becomes simpler when you narrow the search with these factors:
  • The size of the electric circuit in your studio... your kiln choice will be limited by the number of amps available.
  • The size of the kiln... estimate how much firing chamber space you need. For glass and clay, you may also want to consider the shelf size, too!
  • Front loading or top loading.
  • Max firing temperature.
After you reduced the kiln selection search with those four factors and make a list of models that you are considering. Then, compare those kilns and manufacturers in greater detail. This process will make everything better, promise!

Q2: I’m nervous about ordering my first kiln... and, have so many questions. Do you have any pointers that will help? 

We totally understand that ordering a kiln can be complicated. But, it doesn’t have to be. Here is a great checklist to help you avoid any issues:
  • Is your dealer knowledgeable about firing? This can be as important as the price of the kiln.
  • What about warranty repair? Make sure you understand how the manufacturer handles the warranty.
  • If comparison shopping, have you asked about the cost of crating or residential delivery? Are you paying extra for the stand as some are not included?
  • Do you need to order a kiln shelf?  Most kilns do not include them.
  • Do you have a covered, well-ventilated location for the kiln, protected from the weather? Is the area free of flammable materials? If you are going to use the garage, plan on parking the car in the driveway during firing.
  • Is the kiln room large enough? You will need 12" of additional clearance on all sides of the kiln during operation. We do not recommend small, enclosed rooms such as closets.
  • Will the kiln fit through the doorway? Measure to be sure. Sounds crazy but, we know of cases where doorways had to be torn down to move the kiln into the firing room.
  • Are you sure about voltage and electrical phase? 240 and 208-volt outlets cause confusion because they look the same. Check with your electrician, if in doubt. Ordering a kiln of the wrong voltage can be very difficult to remedy!
  • Will you need special wiring? Figure this into your budget before ordering the kiln.
Q3: How will putting a kiln in my garage affect my homeowner’s insurance? 

Our friends at Paragon shared this info regarding homeowner’s insurance:
  • Some insurance companies simply don't insure kilns. No matter what you tell them, they won't change their minds.
  • Other insurance companies need extra information--i.e., the kiln is UL Listed--before they will OK the kiln. If they need more information about safety, we will be glad to supply it from the manufacturer.
  • Still, other insurance companies have no problem with kilns and don't even care if you have one.
A properly installed and operated electric kiln is very safe. Do not leave it unattended during operation, and disconnect the power when not in use. Keep flammable materials out of the firing room. If you fire the kiln in a garage, remove cans of paint and gasoline. Store them in a separate building such as a garden shed. If you follow these basic rules and the others listed in the manual, your kiln will be a source of joy rather than of worry.

As always, if you need help or have questions... call us!  We are happy to help!

05 August 2018

Opaline Overlays

Bullseye Glass Quick Tip:

This Quick Tip shows you the beauty of Opaline sheet glass! Amazing on its own—also a great tool to expand your color palette in kilnforming, creating new colors with distinct properties. As an overlay, expect subtle changes when fired over light value styles and more dramatic effects over dark values.

Style codes for glasses above:

White (000113-0030), Driftwood Gray (000132-0030), Elephant Gray (000206-0030), Deco Gray (000136-0030), Slate Gray (000236-0030), Black (000100-0030)

29 July 2018

It's Big BLU Hammer Time!

Kiln Frog is excited to announce their new partnership with Big BLU Hammer!

Big BLU is an American manufacturer of air power hammers, hand hammers, and blacksmiths hand tools. They are also a busy full-time decorative blacksmith shop. It's pretty cool because they USE the tools they make.

Big BLU offers a variety of hammer sizes, shapes, weights, and designs to help the user perform the task at hand more easily and efficiently. They also have Punch & Drift Sets, Tongs and tons of Carving Chisels!

To kick off this exciting new partnership, we are giving away Big BLU No. X-2 BLU Rounding Hammer! One side is rounded for moving metal and the other is flat for cleaning up hammer marks. At just under 4 lbs, the balance and weight of the X-2 is perfect. Easy to rotate in your hand and it packs a punch without being too cumbersome. Did we mention it's one of Josh Weston's favorites?

For your chance to win, all you need to do is... LIKE and SHARE our posts AND follow Kiln Frog on Instagram or Facebook! Winner will be selected on Sunday, August 12th.

14 July 2018

The Color Purple

Did you know that Purple was the 2018 Color of the Year?

Specifically, the chosen hue is PANTONE 18-3838, most commonly known as Ultra Violet. That's interesting... because, by definition, actual "ultraviolet" light is invisible.

"Each color of the year encompasses something about fashion, decorating and design trends while also reflecting what's needed in our world today," said Pantone Color Institute's vice president, Laurie Pressman. Last year's color of the year was a "life-affirming" shade of green. The year before, it was a pairing of rose quartz and serene blue that was seen as "anti-stress".

So, what does Purple have to say about our planet in 2018?

According to Pantone, Ultra Violet is a dramatically provocative and thoughtful purple shade that communicates originality, ingenuity, and visionary thinking, all of which point us toward the future.

Historically, mysterious purples have been symbolic of unconventionality and artistic brilliance. Musical icons Prince, David Bowie, and Jimi Hendrix brought shades of Ultra Violet to the forefront of western pop culture as personal expressions of individuality and creativity.

There has also been a mystical or spiritual quality attached to Ultra Violet. The color is often associated with mindfulness practices, which offer a higher ground to those seeking refuge from today’s over-stimulated world. The use of purple-toned lighting in meditation spaces and other gathering places energizes the communities that gather there and inspire connection.

So, whether you're a lover of Purple Rain or Purple Haze... it's time to crank up the volume and get creative!

08 July 2018

Peepholes and Venting

Last week, we got an e-mail with a bunch of great questions about peepholes and venting your kiln when using powdered enamels dry on copper. So, we thought that we would give you some insights on venting for all kinds of enamels on glass, and metals too. Hopefully, this Q&A from Gail will help you in the future... it always helps me!  

Why does my kiln have a Peephole?
Large peepholes (viewports), tapered for a wide view without heat loss, were originally designed for manual kilns so you could see when the pyrometric cones bent. With venting as their secondary function, peepholes allow oxygen to be drawn into the kiln’s chamber and serve as an escape passage for metal oxides, smoke, and water vapor.

Do I need a Peephole Plug?
Peephole plugs are used to stop air from entering the kiln, not to prevent heat loss. But a kiln shouldn't be vacuum sealed, so It is beneficial to have some air entering the kiln at all times, It is not necessary that the plugs fit tightly.

What is the best shape for a Peephole Plug?
Peephole plugs are typically made of a lightweight ceramic material that can handle thermal stress well. Many plugs are interchangeable with different kilns, and the type of plug that is chosen is typically based on individual preference. The plugs with a tapered shape are designed to fit in just about any hole.
Should I leave the Peephole hole open or closed during firing? 

For plain old glass fusing and slumping, always fire the kiln with the plug in the hole as it helps the kiln reach temperature more easily. If you chose to leave the peephole out during firing to improve the oxygenation inside the kiln, be aware that this may cause a cold spot in the kiln.
  • When firing dry enamels on copper, leave the plug in the hole until you reach the top processing temperature, then remove it for proper oxygenation of colors as you insert your trivets and fork. When you are firing red, orange, or yellow enamels you should remove the plug so that more oxygen circulates in the firing chamber, keeping the colors bright. 
  • When firing liquid enamels on glass, leave the kiln vented or plug out until your reach 1000F. Then place the plug back in the hole. SOME (not all) liquid enamels need oxygen to develop to their juiciest potential!
  • If you want the kiln to cool faster, remove the plug. 
  • If you are doing a wax burnout, remove the plug. 
  • If you are doing a hollow core metal clay project, remove the plug.
Are there fumes that come out of the Peephole that I should be careful of? 
That depends on what brand of enamels... SAFETY FIRST! OLDER ENAMELS MAY CONTAIN LEAD THAT CAN BURN OFF IN THE TORCH OR KILN and will require proper ventilation of the area. Always do your research on enamels before you plan to use them.