Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

First time kiln user


#1

Hi all,

I have twi questions. The first is about how to use Ganoksin’s search
function; I was going to post a question about my Paragon kiln, but
decided to try getting an answer in the archives first. I entered
"paragon kiln" and got 224265 hits. Any suggestions on how to use the
search function to produce more targeted results?

The second question concerns getting proper as a first
time kiln user how to use the kiln furniture and what setup I should
use for firing small clay components, whether I need pyrometric
cones, and other basics. I downloaded the manual from the Paragon web
site but it was not helpful. A few illustrations or photos would
provide the I think.

Thanks in advance,
Mary


#2

Hi Mary,

you pose a complex set of questions which are not easily answered.
Firstly you indicate you wish to use your kiln for firing ceramics.
If is a new kiln it will probably be able to fire up to 1300C or cone
10 which means it can fire earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. The
kiln furniture it will come with will probably include shelves, shelf
props and possibly stilts which are used to stand earthenware pieces
on for their glaze firing. Stoneware and porcelain can’t be fired on
stilts so it is necessary to ensure that parts that sit on the
shelves are free of glaze. When glaze firing it is also important to
coat the shelves with batwash to stop any drops of glaze sticking to
the shelves. We have two kilns both with electronic temperature
controls. One of the kilns only fires to 1100C so we use it for
occasional bisque firing up to 1000C and mostly for lost wax burnout
which only requires 650C. We have occasionally used cones just to
check that the electronics are sufficiently accurate. They are. Our
main ceramics kiln can fire to 1300C and comes with an electronic
controller that can run the whole firing cycle with set points and
controllable ramp rates. With this controller we simply enter a cone
number and the speed of the cycle and let the controller do the work.
The only other intervention required of us is to close the vents
around 500C. Again it is worth occasionally checking the accuracy of
the program with cones.

This all just touches on the an area that requires some detailed
knowledge.

A book or two on ceramics that has some detailed discussion of
firing would be useful.

All the best
Jen


#3

Hello Mary,

We need some more What model kiln are you using? What
are you using it for. metal clay, wax burnout, fusing/slumping
glass, enameling, whatever?

Also, you can contact Paragon customer service. They are extremely
helpful and want to help you use your kiln. You can call them or
email them with your questions.

But you can also try here first, with questions, once we know what
model kiln it is and what you’re using it for.

Linda K-M


#4

Thank you Linda and Jen. To be more specific, I have a Paragon SC2
kiln which has a window and is electronically programmed. It has a
max temp of 2000 degrees. My goal is to make small ceramic
components for mixed media jewelry. I do not intend to gale at this
point due to safety concerns, and I like the plain color of a white
or beige clay. I found a clay at Dick Blick that air dries but can
also be fired to make it stronger and waterproof.
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep81kz

From the you gave me Jen, as I am not making porcelain
or stone ware I could place these components on the shelf, no?

Did I cover the specifics needed?


#5

Mary, which kiln model do you have? The model number is listed on
the electrical data plate, which is usually on the side of the kiln.

Which instruction manual did you download?

Sincerely,

Arnold Howard
Paragon Industries
paragonweb.com


#6

Hi Mary,

2000 of those funny American degrees is just under 1100C which is
about a 03 cone. This is an earthenware glaze firing temperature and
probably sufficient for bone china. This is insufficient for
stoneware or porcelain which in your case doesn’t matter. If you are
firing pieces without a glaze you can sit them on the shelves or even
stack them on top of each other within reason remembering unfired
clay is rather fragile. An alternative material you could consider
for the future is egyptian paste, a material that has been around for
7000 years and is self glazing with one firing. I am planning to
experiment with this to make beads and pendants by incorporating
metallic compounds of chromium, nickel, cobalt and copper to produce
the colour. In this case you have to hang items such as beads on
kanthal or nichrome wire placed between props or protect the shelves
with batwash or better still fibre paper.

All the best
Jen


#7

Hello Mary,

I have not used my SC-2 kiln for anything other than metal clay, and
I’m not a ceramist.

That being said, firing earthen clays is quite different from firing
metal clays, for which the SC-2 was designed. When firing earthen
clays, one must fire to temperatures that are indicated, usually, by
melted cones. With a window in the door, you can easily see (with IR
eye protection) the status of the cones. Should work just fine with
earthen clays. Ceramists, chime in please. Arnold Howard, your
thoughts?

Linda Kaye-Moses


#8

Hello Linda and Mary,

Clay kilns can be found with digital programs now with automatic shut
offs. If your going to use a kiln that has digital controls then what
is most important is a long preheat for firing earthen ware clays.
Higher firing clays such as porcelain and stoneware use the same
procedure. I have been working with clay for as long as I can
remember but I only use pyrometric cones for determining the heat in
my kiln but would love having a digital model with an automatic cut
off. That said…you can use an enamel or metal clay kiln for firing
clay if you have digital controls as long as you have a preheat and
vent the kiln before you start bringing the temperature up slowly.
Would be nice to have some sort of peep hole to see a pyrometric cone
when it starts to bend over. Even digital kilns can go wrong. Well,
that is my 2 cents worth. Linda, wish I could come up to take your
metal clay course as I have heard your an excellent teacher and a
very fine artist. Maybe next year.

Best,
Chris