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How to Fire Glazed Ceramic Beads

Suspend a bead rod by placing between two posts.


How to Fire Glazed Ceramic Beads

Reader Response: Using a kitchen timer

Recent Q&As: Temperature overshoot, firebrick repair


Ceramic greenware beads can be piled onto the kiln shelf. But once the beads have been bisque-fired and then glazed, they must be suspended by stilt rods (also called bead rods). Since the beads are glazed, they cannot be placed on the kiln shelf.

Stilt rods are made from the same type of wire as kiln heating elements though the rods are thicker than elements. The higher the temperature, the thicker or shorter the rod must be.

The beads must not be glazed inside the hole and around the edge of the hole. Otherwise they will stick to the rod. Space the beads so they do not touch. Suspend the stilt rods between two posts. You can also center a stilt rod over a horizontal post so that the rod extends past the post on each side. Then load an equal number of beads on each end of the rod. This is an efficient way to fire many beads since one short post can hold several rods. Be careful not to jar the kiln, or the rods could fall.

Wendy Peck of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada shares a technique that she learned from Grant, who works at The Sounding Stone in Winnipeg. “I was making beads and pendants with Southern Ice (cone 10) a few years ago. My pottery supplier set me up with soft firebricks and a handful of kiln element pins. I stuck the pins all over the soft brick, porcupine-like. I could fire quite a few beads and pendants on each brick, and the pins held up to the heat without bending.

“I first put the pins in at a steep angle, but some of the pendants slid down and fused to the brick. So I learned to stick them in at a slight angle. Grant is my local supplier for all things clay, and a great advisor.”



In the last Kiln Pointer I shared the story of an overfired glass piece that looked like a small green face. Ardith Willmer of Santa Cruz, California wrote, “I purchased a small clip-on kitchen timer from The Pampered Chef for around $13.00. When I am 'watching' the kiln, I clip the timer to my apron. I ALWAYS check the gauge to make sure the time is still running, and then I just forget about it until the timer goes off.”

Decide when you will check on the kiln, and set the timer to go off as a reminder. For example, if you started the firing at 7 a.m. and you want to check the kiln at 9 a.m., set the timer for 2 hours. The count-down timer on a digital wristwatch makes a handy kiln reminder, too.


Q. My small kiln went all the way up to 1600 degrees F before the glass pieces were fully fused. Seems a little high to me. Is there a way to test to make sure my kiln is reading the right temperature?

A. The 1600 degree F temperature is due to something called overshoot, which happens during a fast firing. The temperature in the walls goes higher than the temperature of the glass because of the fast rate. It is normal and nothing to worry about.

Q. A piece of element groove about one inch long has broken off inside my firebrick kiln. How should I repair it?

A. The damage is cosmetic only. As long as the element doesn't come out of the groove, the piece does not need to be cemented back into place. As a general rule, do not repair cosmetic damage. Kilns do not stay new looking for long.


I once asked a visitor what he thought of the Paragon factory, and he said, “I see interesting patterns everywhere.” I’ve always noticed them, too--switch boxes lined up in rows after they’ve been silk-screened, kilns on an assembly line, or stacks of firebricks.

While I was riding my bicycle to work, the sun on the horizon silhouetted a building that was under construction. I watched the sun flash through a row of wooden rafters as I sped past. The pattern of evenly spaced roof framing reminded me of the patterns at the Paragon factory.

We will be closed next Monday to observe the sacrifices of those who gave so much in the service of their country. All of us wish you a safe Memorial Day 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 2008, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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