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Firing Glass on Multiple Shelves

Necklaces by Cindy Durant


Firing Glass on Multiple Shelves


What is metal clay?

Fear of kilns


By Cindy Durant Australia

I have fired glass in several large kilns for up to 14 years now using varying layers of shelves. Here are guidelines that I have learned through much trial and error. Perhaps this will save you a bit of time:

1) I use varying lengths of posts to control heat flow. 2” posts are usually not long enough. I use short posts for pieces that I want to tack fuse or for jewelry made from thinner glass. I use 3" or 4" posts for glass that needs more heat.

2) I use different types of glass at different levels in my kiln. Float glasses and Desag glasses take a much hotter temperature than Bullseye or Uroboros. I have not used the Spectrum 96, but the old Spectrum takes a slightly higher temperature.

3) I slump glass in the cooler locations of the firing chamber.

4) I sometimes use a slightly lower temperature with a longer soak at top temperature to even out the heat. I even sometimes have a slightly slower rise.

You will need to do a little testing for each kiln, but there are ways to utilize your kiln’s interior space. For one-off pieces of art that I really want to control, I just waste the energy and give them the whole kiln. It is not worth scrimping there.


Thanks, Cindy, for the valuable glass firing pointers.

Cindy lives in Penong on the far west coast of South Australia. She began fusing glass over 20 years ago when few stained glass artists had yet heard of fusing. She sells beautiful glass throughout Australia. Many of her designs are inspired by her love of the nearby ocean.


Q. What is metal clay?

A. Metal clay is produced in two brands: Precious Metals Clay and Art Clay Silver. It is a pliable clay that when fired in a kiln becomes solid silver. The clay is also available in gold.

The clay contains finely ground silver particles suspended in a clay binder. The binder burns away, and the silver particles fuse together to form a solid piece. Since the binder disappears, the clay shrinks slightly during firing.

Q. I bought an SC-2 digital kiln but am afraid to fire it.

A. Many beginners are afraid of their first kiln. This is normal. Kilns seem mysterious because they reach such high temperatures.

But once you fire the kiln a few times, you will no longer be afraid. A properly installed kiln is extremely safe to operate.

Read the instruction manual, and enter several practice programs into the temperature controller. Imagine that you are programming a microwave oven instead of a kiln. If you look at it that way, you will realize that the controller is not much more complicated than an appliance that you are already using. With a little practice, you will find that programming the temperature controller is also similar to using the timer and alarm on a digital wristwatch.

As you read the instruction manual, highlight or underline sections that you want to reread. Don’t skip over the safety rules and kiln set up. You will find that much of the manual is for reference and may not even apply to you now.

After you have practiced entering programs and you are accustomed to the display messages, test-fire the kiln. Write down the date, the starting time, the program you entered, and the total firing time. Fire the kiln empty so you won't worry about damaging a project inside the kiln.

As the kiln fires, notice the color around the door. Get accustomed to the sound of the element humming and the relay clicking.

Allow the kiln to cool to room temperature. Then load it with a project and fire it again to the correct temperature.

Once you have successfully fired a project, you will wonder why you were ever afraid of the kiln. Opening the kiln and removing the beautiful ware that you made with your own hands is like Christmas morning. Opening the kiln may well become one of the highlights of your week.

Mark Twain wrote, “Do the thing you fear most and the death of fear is certain.” Over the years I have learned from experience that he was right.

Thank 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 /

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Copyright 2007, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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