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Showing FAQs 40of 40    


A plate cracked in the kiln. How can I tell whether it cracked during the heating up or cooling down phase of the firing?

You can tell when the crack occurred by examining the edges of the crack. This applies to cracks in clay and glass. Rounded edges indicate that the plate cracked while the kiln was going up in temperature. Sharp edges indicate that the plate cracked ... [More]

At what point can you speed up the firing?

After the quartz inversion (1000° - 1100°F), clays in the bisque, or greenware firing, can be fired faster. By this stage, the water has been completely driven out of the clay. Actual speed will depend on how many impurities the clay contains. Slow t ... [More]

Can I use glass separator as high fire kiln wash?

Glass separator is made of minerals that do not fuse at high temperatures. You can use Paragon's glass separator as high fire kiln wash. Paragon’s glass separator and high fire kiln wash are both designed for temperatures up to cone 10 (porcelain and ... [More]

Can stilt points be repaired?

Stilt points are made of a high temperature metal alloy. You can straighten metal points by bending gently with pliers. Remove glaze buildup on the points with a stilt stone or emery cloth. The oxidation of the wire can discolor the glaze at the stil ... [More]

Can the length of a firing (the number of hours of a firing) cause crazing or shivering of a glaze?

Yes. It is possible that firing too fast can cause a glaze to craze or shiver. This is because the fast firing does not allow enough time for the glaze to properly meld with the clay. Try firing sample pieces at a slower rate.

What happens if ... [More]

Does firing paper clay in a ceramic kiln affect the kiln’s warranty?

Paper clay can create a reducing atmosphere in an electric kiln. However, as long as the kiln is properly vented, the paper clay should not affect the Paragon warranty. Early in the firing, the kiln will smoke, even if you are using a downdraft kiln ... [More]

How do you apply satin glazes?

Satin glazes should be applied with a fan brush in three thin coats. The glazes are difficult to work with and take practice. Some people gently wipe the surface between coats of satin glaze. This helps to even out the coating.

... [More]

How do you apply underglazes?

Apply underglaze crayons/chalk with a dry brush. You have to build up the color in layers, setting each layer with either a light coat of matt sealer or even hairspray. If you use them on bisque, sponge on the first coat of glaze to prevent smearing. ... [More]

How do you eliminate glaze pinholing?

Try a 20 minute soak at the end of the glaze firing. This will allow the glaze to heal pinholes.

... [More]

How do you fire decals?

You can fire ceramic or glass decals in any kiln that can reach 1450 degrees F / 787 degrees C. Decals are an excellent beginner’s project, because you can achieve success with your first firing.

You can fire decals onto glazed ceramic cups, ... [More]

How do you use silica sand inside a kiln?

Silica sand, as with kiln wash, will ruin heating elements on contact. Keep the sand out of the element grooves. Do not let the sand spill into the switch box louvers.

1) If you use a fan to lower the firing room temperature, do not aim the f ... [More]

How does one program a 180 – 200 degree F candling on a digital kiln?

You can hold at 180 - 200 degrees in either Ramp-Hold or Code-Fire mode.

In Ramp-Hold, choose a rate for the first segment. Then enter a temperature from 180 to 200 as the target temperature of the first segment. Enter the hold in number of ... [More]

How fast can I fire ceramics without breaking the ware?

The answer depends on the wall thickness of the piece, and moisture content. But there are other important considerations. If you fire too fast, the impurities in the ware will not have time to burn off completely. This could lead to discolored bisqu ... [More]

How much will I shorten my element life by opening the kiln at 1800 degrees F for raku firing?

From our experience, opening the kiln at 1800F should not noticeably reduce your element life. We sell kilns to heat treaters, and they regularly open the kilns at that temperature range to remove steel parts.

... [More]

How often should I vacuum the kiln?

You do not need to vacuum the kiln for a ceramic bisque firing. But you should vacuum it before every glaze firing. Use the brush nozzle attachment.

... [More]

I am firing tiles. Is it okay to have shelves spaced 3 – 4 inches apart throughout the kiln?

Yes, you can fire the shelves as close as 3 - 4 inches apart as long as there is at least one element groove between shelves. Also, it is better to have element grooves between shelves rather than lined up horizontally with a shelf.

... [More]

I have a small Paragon computer kiln with a 12" x 12" interior. Should I vent it? It's going to be used to test cone 6 glazes and fire bisque. It will be in the garage next to my large kiln.

The answer depends on how often you fire the kiln, what else is stored in your garage, and whether the garage is attached to a living area. If the garage is attached to a house, then you should vent the kiln. The fumes from clay and glazes can move t ... [More]

I need to fire at the end of the week, and I won't have more than one shelf's worth of items. Do I put them in the bottom of the kiln? Middle? Top?

Spread your partial load throughout the kiln with shelves and posts. Place a few items on each shelf so the ware is spaced evenly in the bottom, middle, and top of the kiln.

... [More]

I recently stilted cone 6 glazed ceramic pieces. Two came out completely fused into the stilts. Have you ever heard of that happening?

Stilts are designed for low-fire ware in the 05 range. They can sometimes be used on very light cone 6 ware, but it is risky. If the ware is heavy, the stilts will embed into the clay.

... [More]

In some materials I've read that you should bisque fire your pottery one cone lower than your final fire, but in other materials they say the opposite.

Low fire ceramics (cone 05): Fire the bisque one or two cones hotter than the glaze. High fire ceramics (cone 6): Fire the bisque one cone cooler than the glaze.

That is only a very general guideline. The exact cones to fire the material v ... [More]

Is it okay to fire ceramic glazed ware and greenware in the same load?

Do not fire glazed ware and greenware in the same cone 04 kiln load. This is because not all glazes are fired to cone 04--only specialty glazes such are bronze (metallics). There must be a 2 cone difference between bisque and glaze firing for good bo ... [More]

Is it okay to fire stoneware pieces over the gap formed between half shelves?

Yes, as long as the gap between the shelves is not too wide. If your clay sags into the gap between the shelves during firing, then space the shelves closer together the next time.

... [More]

Is it okay to fire Styrofoam and packing peanuts in a kiln as armatures for clay projects?

Please do not fire Styrofoam in a kiln. It would produce toxic fumes such as styrenes and polyaromatic hydrocarbons.

... [More]

Is it safe to introduce a combustible material into a hot kiln through a peephole? This is to create a reduction atmosphere for crystalline glazes.

Paragon has always warned against inserting combustible materials into the kiln. It can be dangerous, especially with toxic materials such as moth balls.

Reduction firing is also hard on the heating elements. The reduction atmosphere eats aw ... [More]

Is it true that even though a kiln is rated for cone 10, it is best not to fire at that temperature?

A cone 10 kiln has extra insulation and heavy duty elements. It has enough power to reach cone 10 many times. (A Paragon front-loading Dragon is an example of a cone 10 kiln.) However, the heavy duty elements will last longer at temperatures below co ... [More]

Most of my load of ceramics turned out perfectly. However, several bowls collapsed onto the shelf, ruining the shelf. Why did the bowls overfire?

The bowls that overfired were made from a lower temperature clay than the rest of your load.

... [More]

Should stoneware pots be fired with the lid in place, or with the lid separated from the pots?

Generally, fire with the lid separated from the pot during the bisque firing; fire with the lid on during the glaze firing. If the lid is fired on the pot during bisque, the organics in the clay may become trapped inside the pot and not burn off comp ... [More]

Should the kiln be used to dry greenware?

At Paragon we've always said that the ware should be bone-dry before placing it inside the kiln. If the ware is moist, the kiln uses electric power to turn that moisture to steam. It's an expensive way to dry ware.

If you leave the lid well ... [More]

Should you use kiln wash under the Orton self-supporting witness cones?

Use kiln wash on the surface where self-supporting witness cones are placed. This is because cones can stick to bare kiln shelves. When you remove the cone, part of the bare shelf may come off with it.

... [More]

What are the basics of firing low-fire glazed ware?

Your hands must be clean when touching glazed ware. Oil and hand lotion will leave fingerprints. If you scrape off or damage the color during handling, you can usually repair it by applying more glaze over the damaged spot before firing.

The ... [More]

What are the basics of loading ceramic ware?

These general guidelines apply to all types of ceramic ware.

1) Never fire glass or glazed ware directly on the kiln’s brick or fiber bottom. Always fire these items on a shelf coated with kiln wash or glass separator.

2) To make full ... [More]

What are the basics of loading low-fire greenware?

Low-fire greenware has a firing range from cone 06 to 02. The greenware must be bone dry before firing. Otherwise, it will crack or even explode during firing. Check for dryness by touching to cheek or the inside of a wrist. Ware will be cold if not ... [More]

What can my students use that would require the least amount of instruction and fine motor skills to color ceramic beads?

Brush the glaze onto the bead while the bead is positioned on a rod. Your students can handle the rod without disturbing the glaze. Suspend the bead so that it doesn't touch anything while the glaze dries.

... [More]

What causes ceramic ware to break inside a microwave oven?

Ware that absorbs water can break inside a microwave. This is because the water in the clay expands and turns to steam. Pieces that are to be used in a microwave should be vitreous, which means they no longer absorb water.

Another reason is u ... [More]

What causes kiln wash to flake off a shelf onto glazed ware?

Sometimes kiln wash builds up on the edges of shelves during application. Remove excess kiln wash by running a finger around the edges of shelves. Otherwise the kiln wash could flake off onto ware below during loading.

... [More]

What do you use to make the hole in clay beads?

Press the hole into the clay while the clay bead is still soft. If you wait until the clay is dry, you will have to drill the hole and risk breaking the bead. Use a metal rod to form the hole in the clay with a slight twisting motion. Clean the openi ... [More]

What happens if you leave a carbon steel armature in a sculpture and fire it to cone 10? Will this harm the kiln?

Leaving the armature inside the clay sculpture will not harm the kiln. But difference in expansion rate between the metal and the clay may damage the sculpture.

... [More]

What is more accurate: the witness cones, or a pyrometer?

The witness cones are more accurate, because they measure heat work. A pyrometer measures temperature alone.

... [More]

What is the most efficient way to load tiles?

Tile and plate setters are holders used to stack plates and tiles inside the kiln. Firing plates and tiles is more efficient with a tile or plate setter than placing these items flat on the shelf. The setters not only save space in the kiln but also ... [More]

Will the soda ash in shino recipes damage the heating elements?

Soda ash glazes are a salt in the periodic table (sodium) and will shorten the life of electric kiln elements.

... [More]

Showing FAQs 40of 40    

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