In the jewellery workshop: Choosing a jewellery making kiln

We first ran this post last year but people have been asking us about kilns recently so we thought it was time to share it again.

When choosing a kiln for your jewellery, the options can seem overwhelming, so here we look at some of the things to think about.

What do you want to use it for?

While it is obvious that a kiln for a pottery studio will have different requirements to something for your jewellery studio but there are a number of requirements such as space and temperature that you need to consider.

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How much space do you have available?

It may seem obvious but it can be easy to get carried away with the features and whether it will fit in your workspace. Plus a lot of kiln specs will concentrate on the internal dimensions and the actual kiln will be substantially larger.

At the same time think about what you will be able to fire at one time and how large your pieces will be. That said small kilns are regarded as suitable for home or studio based firing for jewellery using glass, metal clay and enamel. For example a kiln with internal dimensions of 20cm by 20cm by 14cm will give you a shelf space of almost 400cm2, which will hold quite a few jewellery elements.

What temperature do you need to fire at?

Choose kiln that heats higher than the maximum you expect to fire at. Kilns are not designed to run at their maximum temperature the whole time and so it is better for the life of your kiln to buy one that heats to a higher temperature than you will regularly need. Kilns that heat to just over 1,000C are often recommended as covering all your likely jewellery needs.

Note that kilns designed for ceramics generally have less even temperature than glass kilns.

Also consider what sort of temperature controller you need. A digital or programmable controller will allow you to set your kiln more accurately for firing metal clay for example, giving you better results.

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Electricity supply and consumption

Smaller kilns up to around 3kW will operate from a 13 amp plug but larger kilns require a larger electrical fuse so will require a connection like your cooker. Make sure you check what sort of power supply you need.

These kilns are not expensive to run – according to warmglass.co.uk a small kiln will cost you about 50p per batch of fused glass fired.

Trying out a kiln

Trying out a kiln or getting feedback from people who’ve used a particular model is invaluable. If you know someone who owns the type of kiln you are considering, ask if you can try it out and what they think of it. Also talk to tutors if you are attending any classes that involve firing and get their opinions.

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Go for the best

Or at least go for the best kiln you can afford, is the universal advice. This is an investment in your jewellery making and you want to get the best results you can. If you have a better kiln you should reduce wastage through poor results which over the long term will be better than saving a bit of money at the start.

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