17 June 2018

When the Kiln Lid Flakes...

Great information about kiln lid flakes from our friends at Paragon...

At Paragon, they coat the inner lid surface of all kilns to reduce brick dust. Sometimes the refractory coating is too thick so, it will blister and flake off when the kiln is fired. An especially thick coating looks like a network of peeling cracks similar to a dried mud puddle. This cracking is due to the difference in expansion between the firebricks and the coating. Conversely, correctly applied kiln coating will look like it disappeared after the kiln has been fired.

The good news is that cracked lid coating is easy to repair. Just lightly remove the blistering coating with sandpaper and apply a new coat of Liquid Kiln Coating. Keep in mind that the natural tendency is to apply too much lid coating because it just looks better than a thin layer.  If done correctly, you should still be able to see the firebrick pores under the coating!

First, shake the container very well! Then, pour some of the coating into a bowl. Make sure to stir it just before you apply it to the firebricks. Apply the coating with a large, soft sponge. Moisten the sponge with water; then squeeze out the excess... this is a very important step! Dip the sponge into the bowl of kiln coating. Wipe the coating over the lid surface.

Do not let excess coating run into the element grooves of the kiln. Applying a light coat will prevent this from happening. If the coating drips along the edges of the grooves, remove by wiping a cotton swab or rag along the groove.

Many people have asked us... "What is the difference between kiln cement and Liquid Kiln Coating? Can a lid be coated with a thin mixture of kiln cement?" The answer is YES! Kiln cement thinned with water will work as a lid coating. Liquid Kiln Coating is simply a mixture of kiln cement, fine brick dust, a gumming agent, and water.

The great news is that lid coating lasts for several years. So, it's not something you need to worry about on a daily basis.  But, if you start getting kiln brick dust on your work, maybe it's time to re-apply. 

10 June 2018

Get the Look with Stripes and Dots

Bullseye Glass Quick Tip:

This Quick Tip, shows you how to get a fun summer look using rods to easily create simple stripes and dots.

Stripes - Use a complete layer of rods as the base, then cap with 3 mm Clear and fire to a full fuse. To ease set-up and prevent rods from rolling, make yourself a square frame from 1/16" fiber paper. After firing, the shelf side will have a smooth, semi-matte finish, while the top has glossy goodness. Slump with either side up!

For variation in line width, place a stringer in the low spot between rods. Stringers are great and will stay perfectly straight through the fuse.

If you are looking to cut rods in bulk, try securing the bundle with rubber bands and using a wet tile saw. Not only will this save time, it will also make your rod cuts straight and even!

Dots - Nip rods into 3-5 mm sections, and arrange them on a sheet of 3 mm Clear. Place this on a base of 3 mm opalescent and fire to a full fuse. To maintain a square footprint and control volume, use shorter snippets closest to the perimeter.

Designer Marc Jacobs says... "There is never a wrong time for a polka dot" and, we totally agree!

03 June 2018

New Heat Treating Ovens from Jen-Ken

At the Blade Show in Atlanta this weekend, Jen-Ken introduced two new heat treating ovens... the Fiber Front Loader and the Vertical Air Bath.

The new Fiber Front Loader, or FFL as we like to call it, is constructed of the most rigid and durable, light-weight refractory fiber material and has outstanding heat retention. No more wasted time or electricity as the unique fiber construction allows the oven to heat and cool quickly as it reaches annealing temps in less than 90 minutes!  

Other features of the FFL include:

  • Quartz Wrapped Top Elements - The Most Even Heating Possible! 
  • No Exposed Metal Elements - Assures Workshop Safety!
  • Reflective Rigid Fiber -  Keeps the inside Hot! Your Workshop Cool!
  • Custom Fit Door Gaskets - Preventing Heat Loss Over Time!

Best of all, we love the versatility of this oven... especially the Front Loader 12 The Front Loader 12 runs on 120v, fires to 2200° F and has the capacity for a 10" square shelf! With those specifications, it is perfect for metal clay, enameling, glass fusing as well as heat treating! I think this could fast become my new favorite!

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The new Vertical Air Bath suspends blades vertically inside the chamber delivering 360°of uniform heat!  This unique top-loading design with upright blade suspension helps reduce internal stress and prevents warps!

Blades in the Vertical Air Bath can be suspended several ways.... either a pin through the tang, a spring clasped to the tang, or you can simply turn the tang sideways between the movable ceramic rods. This versatility allows the vertical suspension format to be used with almost every heat treating technique.

Other features of the Vertical air Bath include:
  • Top Loading - The Best Heat Recovery! 
  • Large Capacity - Holds a Dozen Blades or More in a Single Load!
  • Configurable Baffle Design - Allows All Blades to Process Together!
  • Power Interrupt Lid Switch - Assures Workshop Safety!
  • Rolling Stand with Casters - Space Flexibility and Portability!
The Vertical Air Bath was a huge hit with everyone at the Blade Show and is available in three sizes... Vertical Air Bath 16, Vertical Air Bath 21 and Vertical Air Bath 30

26 May 2018

Easily Identify the Coated Side of Dichroic Glass

This is one of those questions that can make you crazy... How do I know which side of the dichroic glass is coated?

Originally created for the Aerospace industry, dichroic glass is a created by adding a multi-layer coating to one side of the glass using a highly technical vacuum deposition process. Dichroic glass is available with a transparent or opaque glass base. On a transparent base, some light dichroic colors look the same on both sides of the glass which made finding the coated side all but impossible... until now!

First, place the dichroic glass over a dark background. Then adjust your viewing angle until the surface reflection overpowers the dark background. Next, lightly touch the glass surface with a paper clip and you will see the paper clip reflected in the dichroic coating.

Here is the most important step... Does the reflection meet the paper clip, or is there a gap between the paper clip and its reflection?

On the coated side of the glass, the paper clip will touch its reflection. On the base side of the glass, a gap will separate the paper clip from its reflection. And, the gap will actually equal the thickness of the glass!

So, why is it important to know which side of the dichroic glass is coated?

Cutting - Always cut on the non-coated side of the glass. This helps to prevent chipping, especially on the heavily textured glass.

Coated Side Down - When using the coated side down or capped with clear glass, the dichroic glass will have a smooth glossy surface and sparkle like glitter! It will also change colors between the transmitted color and a completely different reflective color, depending on the angle of view.

Coated Side Up - Conversely, if you create with the coated side up or uncapped, the dichroic surface will have a highly metallic sheen. The piece may additionally be rough and textured depending on the type of dichroic glass you are using.

In the end, there is no wrong way to use dichroic glass... capped or uncapped, it's all a matter of choice. Actually, in my favorite workshop, we didn't fuse it at all! It's all about the experience... the more you know, the greater the range of effects you can achieve!

20 May 2018

Long Blade Friendly Knife/Heat Treat Ovens

Last week, Evenheat introduced their new Long Blade or LB Series of Knife/Heat Treat Ovens. We love them... and, think you will too!

To start, the LB Series has an innovative design as the elements are only located on the sides of the oven. By removing the heating elements from the back, the ovens are able to maintain a more balanced temperature throughout the chamber. So, now you can utilize the entire depth of the oven, regardless of blade length.

The firebricks used in the LB firing chamber are held together using compressive force to form a single piece. They are not cemented together like traditional ovens. This construction technique allows individual firebrick to move independently of each other during the heating and cooling cycles which helps to eliminate breakage.

Another advantage is that solid state relays are standard issue on all LB Series ovens. Solid state relays can be triggered up to 60 times a second compared to a mechanical relay that is limited to about once every 10 seconds. This translates into very tight and responsive temperature control which is crucial when heat treating.

Finally, Evenheat has added two new features to the LB Series... a door guard and a heat trap. The door guard provides protection against firebrick damage as well as reduces the temperature seen at the door and door handle. While the heat trap is a raised machined surface on the door that works as an extra measure against heat loss.

The Evenheat LB Series is available in three sizes... LB 18, LB 22.5 and LB 27! So, if you currently heat treat long blades or would like an oven with excellent heat distribution all the way to the back wall... the LB Series is just for you!