Enamelling kiln question (Long)

Hi to the person asking about the tiny kiln available through Rio
Grande. I had a system crash & I’m just coming back! I’m
assuming that you are asking about the tiny “bee hive” style kiln
for roughly $100.00. What I can say is that it is very limited.
You can only enamel one piece at a time. You must judge by vision
the temperature. It gets hot very quickly. To cool it down, you
basically have to turn it off by unplugging. A sister of a friend
does some excellent work with this kind of kiln, but she does one
piece from start to finish before beginning another. Most basic
enamel books can tell you what color to look for to guess the
temperature, but it is a guess. Are you just uncertain about
pursuing enameling? The little kiln is great if you get into
granulation (fusing fine silver or gold balls to silver or gold
sheet). Thompson has an electric kiln which is larger & not much
more expensive. It is called the TK-1, weighs about 30 pounds,
sells for $165.00, interior chamber is 5" wide, 7" deep, 4" high.
The heating elements are probably exposed (won’t know till mine
gets delivered). To add a portable pyrometer, I will have to
drill a hole into the kiln to accommodate the probe. As the
heating elements are only on the sides of the kiln, I can do this
through the top. I have a larger kiln & as soon as I saved up the
money, bought it & a good Fluke pyrometer. But I knew that I
would continue with enameling. A good pyrometer can cost as much
as a kiln, but I find it indispensable. Thompson sells a portable
pyrometer for $90.00.

If you have a acetylene soldering set up, you can enamel by
playing the torch over the back of a piece. I suggest using
copper to start with. Torch fusing won’t allow you to “counter
enamel”, putting enamel coat on the back side of a piece. Use a
tripod & screen. Clean & prepare a piece of metal to be enameled.
Apply a coat of enamel powder (either sifted dry over a gum &
water mixture or in a wet state, mixed with a little gum & water)
Allow the coat to dry. Place the piece enamel side up on the
screen. Start by using a low flame, playing across the back of
the piece. As it heats up, increase flame. You can see the
enamel fuse through all its stages.

Hope this answers your question. You may contact me if you have
other questions.

Eileen Schneegas
Snow Goose Designs

Ahh, thanks Eileen, you answered my question. It sounds as thought
the Thompson will work better for me. Many thanks!