13 October 2018

Creating Hollow Beads with Cork Clay

Cork clay is the perfect filler to create hollow shapes with Metal Clay. After creating the shape with cork clay, you must allow it to dry for at least 24 hours. Do not force-dry the cork clay with a heat gun. After it's dry, coat the cork clay with metal clay.

Cork clay creations are usually fired in small jewelry kilns such as the Paragon SC-2 or Evenheat Kingpin 88.

It is important to fire cork clay in a well-ventilated area. Open windows and circulate the air with a fan. To prevent the cork from flaming out, always keep the kiln door closed between 500° - 800°F. Also, to give the cork enough time to burn out, fire no faster than 1500F per hour.

Leave the kiln’s vent plug out from the beginning until around 800 °F. Hold at that temperature for 1 hour. After the hold, insert the vent plug and continue to fire the metal clay to the clay manufacturer’s recommended temperature.

⚠️Caution: When venting materials such as cork clay, remove the vent plug at the beginning of the firing. If you forgot to vent the kiln at the beginning of the firing, do not remove the plug later. Removing it later during the firing may cause the organic materials to flame up for a moment. If you ever remove the vent plug and the cork clay flames up, keep the kiln door closed so the flames can die out safely.

Do not fire cork clay in a microwave kiln (the type that is placed inside a household microwave oven). The microwave kiln fires too fast to properly burn out the cork clay.

Just for fun... cereal, pasta, and bread are other good core materials. Do not use wax or Styrofoam as a core as they emit harmful fumes.

06 October 2018

Put a Ring on it!

Bullseye Glass Quick Tip:

In this Quick Tip, explore the possibilities of a palette of rings capped with Opaline! As an overlay, Opaline scatters light for a dramatic impact on base colors. Note the blue hue it adds to the dark-valued green and the subtle changes with lighter-valued greens. But when held up to the light, it's as if the Opaline layer disappears!

One secret of ring cutting is that the inner pieces must be slightly smaller in diameter for the best fit! A central circle cut to the same dimension as the inner ring will not fit, in the same way a ring and circle cut from the same sheet won't fit back together. Larger, narrower rings are easier to cut because they're more flexible than smaller, wider rings.

When trying to remove the rings, make a single score perpendicular to the inner circle and run it gently, then wiggle the ends of the ring up and down to ease it off of the central circle. This will leave a seam in the ring, but this usually fuses together with little visibility, particularly under a cap of Opaline.

30 September 2018

Bringing Home Your New Kiln

Many artists assume they need to rent a dedicated space to work on kiln-glass projects. But you can accomplish a lot in a home studio with just a kiln, a table or bench, and some basic tools.

In this Bullseye Glass short 4-part video lesson, they set up a home studio around a Paragon Fiber Fuse-16, a compact top-loading kiln used in many home studios. Plus, they cover basics like tools, furniture, and other equipment; where to place your kiln; and how to prepare for your first firing.

Watch videos here: Bringing Home Your New Kiln

Additionally, safety in your new studio is always important!  Here are some things to consider:

  • Good housekeeping and common sense go a long way toward ensuring safety in the kiln forming studio. Ventilate your studio well, keep dust to a minimum, and confine hazardous materials to a limited area. 
  • Avoid eating and drinking in the studio. Toxins and dust are easily ingested when you handle food and kiln-working materials in the same space. 
  • Wash your hands upon leaving the studio. If you can’t change clothes, wear a smock or apron while you work. To avoid tracking dust and toxins to other locations, consider dedicating a pair of shoes to studio use only. 
  • Thoroughly read the manual and other information provided by the manufacturer. 
  • Operate your kiln in a well-ventilated area. Full-fuse firings of glass on primed shelves will not release fumes, but firings that involve fibers, enamels, glazes, and other materials can. 
  • Avoid burns by wearing protective clothing. Use heatresistant gloves whenever opening a hot kiln. 
  • Always turn off the power before reaching into a hot kiln (for example, during glass combing or other manual forming). 
  • Protect your eyes. Looking into a hot kiln for prolonged periods of time exposes your eyes to potentially damaging infrared light. Excessive exposure can cause cataracts. Wear safety glasses with protective ANSI shade 1.7 lenses. Didymium glasses used for flameworking DO NOT provide protection from infrared light.
Want more on specific hazards, check out Bullseye Safety in the Kiln-Glass Studio!

23 September 2018

*NEW* Paragon High Speed Knife Making Ovens

Paragon has just introduced two new knife making furnaces... the KM-18T Pro 3 Zone and KM-36T Pro 3 Zone! These two heat treating furnaces are fully stocked with all the great Paragon features including 3-zone temperature control, solid state relays, and a digital Sentinel smart touch controller.

Both the KM-18T Pro 3 Zone and KM-36T Pro 3 Zone are insulated with 2 1/2” ceramic fiber and have the thermocouple wire inside the case for protection from the harsh environment of the typical bladesmith shop. Additionally, because of the ceramic fiber chamber, these ovens have a slightly larger interior space than the traditional KM Series.

Want to know more...

Solid State Relays - Three solid state relays are mounted to aluminum heat sinks. SSR's last far longer than standard mechanical relays and offer better temperature control during holds.SSR's also have no moving parts to wear out. You will also notice is that SSR's are silent. The only sound you will hear just the reassuring hum of the heating elements.

3-Zone Temperature Control - Precise heat distribution throughout the length of the firing chamber. This is because it is divided into three zones. Each zone has its own thermocouple or temperature sensor. The Sentinel controller electronically adjusts the temperature of each zone. See for yourself--test for temperature uniformity by taking measurements along the length of a blade with a Rockwell Hardness Tester.

“Special Limit” Thermocouples - The thermocouples are made of 14-gauge exposed-tip for fast response to temperature changes. Measured from the front, the thermocouples are located in the top at 3”, 9”, and 15”.

Ceramic Fiber Firing Chamber - Unusually fast because it is made with a ceramic fiber firing chamber. It can reach 500°F in minutes. Long lasting, “wavy” elements in the walls are surface-mounted to dissipate heat rapidly and prolong element life.

Digital Sentinel Smart Touch Controller - Store 12 custom heat treating programs with up to 32 segments per program. (Adjust the rate, temperature, and hold time for each segment.) The Sentinel includes Novice Mode, which adds questions to guide you during programming. The Sentinel can also turn a vent or gas injection flow meter on or off for each segment of a program.

Choose a Guillotine Door, Drop Door, or Side-Swing Door - You can order with a stainless steel drop door, a side-swing door, or a guillotine door. The guillotine door lifts out of the way with one-handed operation with the assistance of a spring on each side of the furnace.

Door Safety Switch - The door micro safety switch shuts off the power to the elements when the door is opened, yet the controller continues to give a temperature readout. The safety switch is standard on Paragon KM furnaces.

So, if you are looking for a new heat treat oven with solid furnace construction... check out the KM-18T Pro 3 Zone and the KM-36T Pro 3 Zone from Paragon! I think you will like them as much as we do!

15 September 2018

Nothing is More Important Than Workshop Safety!

As we have heard a million times, “We're here to have fun, not to get injured.” Nowhere is that more imperative than in your studio or workshop. Protecting yourself from common issues is the first step.

From Safety Gloves to Safety Glasses, sometimes it's just hard to find exactly what you need! With that in mind and a little inspiration from the epic song lyrics of Tina Turner... we have put together a few Kiln Frog favorites for you.

The BEST Eye, Ear, and Lung Protection

Your EYES - Keeping your eyes – and in some cases, your face –covered is the easy way to prevent injury.  Using safety goggles when running most machines is plenty.  In the case of a lathe or some saws, you may need the greater protection of a full face shield to keep dust and debris out of your eyes.

Your EARS - Any time you have equipment running – peculiarly for an extended length of time – you need to cover your ears. Brief amounts of high noise levels won't instantly cause a problem, however long-term exposure to loud noises can damage your hearing permanently.

Your LUNGS - Not only is dust an eye irritant, it can irritate your lungs, nose and sinus passages too. Covering your nose and mouth with a simple dust mask will take care of most exposure. Keep in mind, dust isn’t the only irritant to your lungs. Finishes and other workshop chemicals can let off fumes that can cause your problems as well. In this situation,
you may need a more powerful mask with replaceable filters.

The BEST Safety Gloves

Workshop safety is synonymous with hand safety! Even something as small as a splinter can become an issue if left untreated, and sharp things are all over your studio or workshop. As for what type of gloves to use, there are many, many options to chose from. Just make sure to look for and use gloves that have the proper protective ability for the situation you’ll be using them for.

The BEST Workshop Safety Equipment

Did you know? Fires double every 30 seconds so, it's VERY important to stop fires fast! With that said, workshop safety equipment is a top priority! It is important to make sure you are properly prepared with good personal shop safety equipment so that you can be completely comfortable with whatever you are doing.

This is especially true when it comes to talking about Carbon Monoxide. Carbon Monoxide is colorless, odorless, tasteless and toxic gas produced as a by-product of combustion. Any fuel burning appliance, vehicle, tool or other device has the potential to produce dangerous levels of CO gas. So, having a reliable detector can really be the difference between life and death.