I was gifted a Rio Grande PMG Kiln
I am almost done getting my shop set up for using it to do Enameling
I am very new on the enameling front so I figured this was the right
group to ask for advice from :) Here is the shop setup Kiln is set on
stone tile in my "hot zone" in the shop.
On the wall behind it I installed concrete board as well as on the
ceiling (assuming one day I might do glass fusing and have to open
the bung at the top) ventilation is not an issue in the space.
Power may be but if it turns out the circuit is to small I will get
an electrician out here to make the fix.
So question 1.
Am I safe enough in my setup? How close can one of these at home
kilns be to a wall covered in concrete board with no paint on it?
What do I need to get started tools/hardware wise?
I have already been asked for 2 different enameled rings from folks
(not quite a commission as we have no deadlines here) One is going to
be enameling in a "signet" area The other is for an ex MP/Cop so they
just want a simple blue line on a silver ring.
I have looked on a few sites but I do not see anything for holding a
ring in a kiln how would you all do it?
As always thanks everyone,
You dont specify the size and kilowatt power imput of the kiln so
the amount of insulation and space behind and above cannot be
I can give you an example of what I did some 2 yrs ago.
I built a Swiss all timber chalet here for the better half, and
installed a new wood burning stove of 6 kw output.
The guide lines were 4 in minimum between the stove back and flue
pipe and a masonary wall. Our wall is wood!!.
So In addition to that I added 1in of air space between the wall and
the 1st asbestos fireproof sheet then another 1in between that sheet
and a second sheet. then the 4in of air space at least 1ft bigger
than the stove all round and also behind the flue pipe.
Using a thermocouple when the stove was running at max output, the
temperature between the wall and the 1st asbestos sheet was ambient
This satisfied my fire insurance co.
Use your common sense and you should be ok.
Run some trials to get it right.
On a ring using sterling its going to be all down to technique.
1. you have to support the ring from the inside on a stainless ring
2. then the enamel will have to be stuck in the groove.
3. itll need several firings to get it up to level with the metal
4.Then youll have the issue of fire stain as enamelling has to be
done in an oxidising atmosphere.
how you deal with that is not an easy problem, unless you use fine
ie 999 silver. That works fine.
Next the signet ring.
Similar problems with the metal if you use sterling..
If its gold then it will need to be an alloy of fine gold and fine
that will not oxidise in the kiln.
Now you might think of using an anti firestain flux. however enamel
and that dont mix, how you plan to keep the 2 apart, as both get
fluid at enamelling temp, is in my view almost an insoluable problem.
mainly a large 1/4in thick wire fork on a long handle shaped like a
pistol hand grip for loading and unloading the small trivets from
the heavier items will need thicker forks.
Stainless steel trivets you make yourself from sheet and wire.
The first few jobs will run at a loss as your starting out from the
Also enamel on rings is really a contradiction in terms.
nothing but trouble in my experience. Most folk dont know how to
take care of anything enamelled.
The 1st 7yrs of my time in this trade was doing nothing but
most enjoyable but with hindsight, not profitable.
And that was experimenting with every known enamel on every metal
that would take the 800 deg C kiln and flame temp and more..
in Dorset UK.
Enamelling kilns have a fairly small heat footprint so you dont need
a lot of space around them. Most kilns up to 1 cu ft will run off a
plug and socket so no rewiring needed. Run it up to a low heat if it
hasnt been used for a while just to get reid of the moisture and
make sure the elements dont suffer a shock from being switched on at
full load which can do for them if they have hot spots caused by
contamination touching them, ie: dots of PMC or glass.
You will need soem kiln furniture for resting your work on. These
can be bought or made from stainless steel gauze or sheet with holes
punched in them. These need to be bent up so you can get a tool
underneath them to remove them from the kiln. You will also need a
tool for taking these rests in and out of the kiln, something that
looks like a toasting fork with a wooden handle can be make easily
out of a couple of bits of stainless wire or again purchased. I also
have some V stands for placing laregr pieces on or for supporting
mica sheet, which I use for holding odd-shaped items as you can
easily make holes in the mica to grio the item, eg cufflinks. I also
line the bottom of the kiln with kiln paper. This is available from
paces that sell PMC or flass fusing materials. Glass is very
corrosive to the fireclay and if you get it on your elements it will
cause the element to thin and break and is impossible to remove so
this is a disposable clean up. As for holding rings, you can use a
suitable rod suspended between the V stands. This can be made of
silica tube, alumina tube, stainless tube etc but generally you can
place it on a mica sheet.
If you want to buy a book on beginning enamelling then I recommend
one by Jinks McGrath, she is also pretty good at glass art so look
out her titles for bead making and glass fusing as well.
With glass fusing there is normally no need to open the bung at the
top, you do need to control the rate of rise of the temperature
though so you will have to heat and cool in distinct phases but the
bung can be useful when crash cooling.