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Kiln Pointers

Using Silica Sand in Ceramic Firings, Part One

Porcelain doll parts nestled on silica sand. Note: Please keep the sand away from heating elements.

Last week’s Kiln Pointer was on salvaging damaged kiln shelves. In response, Mario Miguel Echevarria of Longmont, Colorado wrote the following:

"I use warped shelves for firing tiles by sprinkling piles of grog on the shelf to ‘shim’ the irregular surface under the tile corners. If the work I am firing needs support under a warped corner or a fragile extension, I pile enough under it to support it and keep it from rocking. Works great!

"I use sand all the time in the kiln now to act as a ball bearing slide under large artwork. Since I have discovered this, my stress fractures in large tiles have decreased drastically.

"I use fire sand as grog. I use 35-mesh grog. I buy it from Mile Hi Ceramics in Denver.

"I reuse the sand over and over. I notice it turns from a gray beach-like sand to a cream of wheat looking sand after a firing.

"When using sand on shelves during a glaze fire, be very careful not to spill any onto the work around or below the sand-supported work. It will become a unwelcome (or sometimes welcome) permanent addition."

Thanks, Mario, for the valuable pointer.


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

A. 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.


From Marc Hines: Happiness is a warm kiln... or two.


Today we are teaching a kiln maintenance seminar at the factory. Cars are lined up all along the front of the building.

The seminar reminds me of the first time I changed an element. Paragon’s new owner, John Hohenshelt Sr., told the crowded class, “And now Arnold will show you how to change an element. I will give the class to him.” Surprised at his announcement, I walked toward the kiln and picked up the coiled wire.

Chairs shuffled as students moved from tables and gathered around the kiln near the front of the room. They closed in around me, some leaned over the kiln, and they watched as I threaded the element into place. I spoke almost as if I were reading instructions, because I had proofread them many times.

That’s how I installed my first element. You will be successful, too, with your first element if you read the instructions before you begin.

I hope you have a great weekend.

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 /

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

Copyright 2007, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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