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Bee-hive kilns for enameling

Dear Enamelers:

Another quick question for those of you who enamel- will the $150ish
dollar bee-hive style kiln listed in Rio, Gesswein, etc, be
sufficient for a beginner enameler? I want to do small pieces for use
in jewelry- at this point I can’t imagine ever wanted to create a
piece more than the 3 inch limit these kilns list. I’m sure that
could change over time, but surely there are limitless small designs
I could content myself with to get a feel for this technique. They
list a top temp of around 1600 degrees, which is the top range of the
enamels I have investigated. However, without a temperature control
method, I’m not totally clear about how to fire lower temp colors;
perhaps you control this somewhat by the length of time the item is
left in the kiln?

So, is anybody out there enameling with one of these relatively
cheap kilns? Will it work?

Nesheim Fuller Design

They list a top temp of around 1600 degrees, which is the top range
of the enamels I have investigated. 

I believe the top temp. is more like 1500. I have one of these, I use
it occasionally for firing PMC in class.

Another jeweler friend has one for granulation.

I haven’t tried it for enameling, though it should work. You would be
limited to just one temperature of enamels, I think.

Another one you could look at is the Firefly by Paragon, at $285.00.

I wrote more about the UltraLite Beehive kiln on my blog:

Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay


yes, they work very well. I have a small table top kiln I use
whenever I am making small pieces.

jennifer friedman

Dear Brenda,

I was wondering the same thing because I have one and like how fast
it comes up to temp. Right now I use it for fused glass projects.
It’s plugged in to a surge suppressor that has an off and on switch
which I turn off and on for the 15 minutes it takes to fuse the
glass. (A rheostat would probably be better.) I will try an enamel
project tomorrow and let you know how it goes.

Marta Irvin

I purchased one of these kilns some time back, since two of the
galleries that show my work ask the artists to do demonstrations on
occasion. I was doing a demo on cloisonne enameling, and the little
kiln was small and portable, that much was good. However, they take a
much longer time to fire even a very small piece, so you really have
to be familiar with what a piece should look like before you take it
out of the kiln. I found it took perhaps 10-12 minutes, vs. the usual
1 - 2 minutes. What I’m saying is, yes, they work to fire enamel, but
I found it extremely frustrating, being used to a larger kiln. It
does eventually fire the piece, but you have to keep taking the lid
off to see the progress of the piece, thereby losing a lot of the
heat each time. Also it is kind of tricky, getting the pieces in and
out without tipping them over, So the simple answer is yes, they fire
enamel, but the devil is in the details. I think if you have any
intention of doing small pieces on a regular basis, the small kiln
that is pre-programmed for firing PMC is the way to go. It plugs into
110V, heats quickly, and fires small enamel pieces in the right time
frame. They are in the $600 range, also from Rio or others.

Linda Gebert

Hi Brenda,

The Ultra Lite from Rio (and other vendors) is a great little kiln.
Perfect for enameling, Keum Boo, granulation and metal clay if you
’re ever interested in experimenting. It goes to 1500F degrees and
has a regulator cord attachment that you can buy to take the
temperature to 800 degrees. Allegedly those are your only two
choices, but I sometimes slide the regulator button to somewhere in
between and I could swear it works. If you really want to know all
about it, I’d ask Tonya Davidson of She’s a
metal clay vendor but has tons of experience with this kiln. You
could also talk to Tevel at Allcraft in New York.


The Bee-hive kilns work just fine for enameling. I use one for
demonstrations. True, the pieces take longer to fuse than when I use
my large kilns, but other than that they are very reliable.

Alma Rands


I’ve been working with the Ultalite kiln for several years. I have
taken many workshops with Jean Stark (Granulation Goddess) and she
uses this kiln almost exclusively. It is portable, inexpensive
(relatively), and very versatile. Like Jean, I use it for
granulating, fusing wire for loop-in-loop chains, and enameling.

Enamels over a certain size(over 3") are difficult in this kiln. I
have a big enameling kiln but I turn to the Ultralite almost
exclusively. I have had to replace the heating element a few times
from excessive use. They are available from Rio and JEC. I have done
demos with this kiln-no need for special wiring or dedicated plugs
either. For what I do it is far more efficient than my big kiln. I
do recommmend buying the thermostat (available from JEC). I haven’t
been compensated to recommend any supplier-just a very happy cu