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Kiln Pointers

Firing Glazed Ceramic Beads

To avoid stilt marks on glazed ceramic jewelry, suspend the pieces on a bead rod through a hole formed in the clay.

Two stacks of short posts on a kiln shelf support the 10-gauge nichrome bead rod. (A 6-inch length of nichrome wire costs only $1.85.) After firing the piece, you can use the hole to thread a silver chain.

Andi Fasimpaur of Dayton, Ohio offers suggestions for suspending jewelry during firing: “I recommend adding holes to clay jewelry. If necessary, later you can cover or disguise the hole with a jewelry bail so that no one need ever be the wiser.

“I know jewelry artists who embed high temperature stamen wire into their pendants to make hanging loops for firing. You could embed a loop at the edge, suspend the piece for firing, and then cut the wire off. File, grind, and sand the edge that has the loop to eliminate almost every trace of the wire.

“I generally buy little packages of stamen wire from my local supplier. The Kemper brand of stamen wire is rated to cone 6 although I've had good results firing it to cone 10 for some of my pierced porcelain beads.”

You can read more about Andi Fasimpaur at .


Wear clear safety glasses when cutting glass. Wear dark firing safety glasses when looking into the firing chamber of a hot kiln.

I learned the importance of safety glasses 20 years ago while building a house in Hawaii. My hammer knocked a fleck of zinc coating from a galvanized nail, and the zinc landed on my eye. Several hours later my sister took me to an emergency room in Hilo, Hawaii, where a doctor had me lie down on a gurney.

Holding up a small instrument, he said, “I’m going to swing this like a miniature golf club and remove the metal from your eye. While I do that, I want you to remain perfectly still. Don’t move a muscle.”

Several nurses and a janitor hovered over me watching intently as the doctor performed the procedure. It took only a few seconds.

Now when I use a hammer, I wear safety glasses.


In last week’s Kiln Pointer I wrote that if you buy glazed ceramic ware from abroad, make sure it is lead-free.

Q. Is there a surface test for lead in ceramic glaze? Even a destructive test would be helpful.

A. The book "Mastering Cone Six Glazes" by John Hesselberth and Ron Roy includes a test for glaze leaching (where glazes are unstable and dissolve in acids):

Here is a lead testing kit for ceramic glaze. I haven't used it and do not know how effective it is:

Last week’s Kiln Pointer also included instructions on stacking kiln shelves:

Yvonne George of North Carolina wrote, “I enjoy reading and learning from the your ‘pointers.’ However, this one made me wonder why you recommend three posts instead of four on a full shelf. I have a 17" wide interior Paragon. I use four posts because I have only two large full shelves; the rest are halves. Using three posts would necessitate re-configuring the posts.

“I use my wonderful computerized kiln for glass and clay,” Yvonne added. “It's great for both.”

I recommend three posts instead of four because if one of the four posts is shorter than the others, part of the shelf will have no support. A cantilevered shelf can break from the stress.

Nevertheless, I can see why Yvonne uses four posts instead of three since she is loading her kiln with a combination of full and half shelves. I would continue loading with four posts since that is working for Yvonne.

By the way, if one of the four posts is shorter than the others, you can place a small wad of clay between the top of the post and the shelf above the post.

Q. What type of saw and blade do you recommend for cutting kiln shelves?

A. Use a tile-cutting wet saw with a diamond blade. You can rent one from a home improvement center. You could also have a tile center cut the shelves for you.

With best wishes,

Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. - Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd. Mesquite, TX 75149-1122 Voice: 972-288-7557 & 800-876-4328 / Fax: 972-222-0646 /

PRIVACY NOTICE: Under no circumstance do we share or sell your email address.

Copyright 2006, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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