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Kiln Pointers

The Importance of Labeling Clay and Glass

Labeling materials properly is the first step to successful firings. Photo by Chance Agrella.


The Importance of Labeling Clay and Glass

A Kiln Story: Safety First

Recent Q&As: Painting on glass; cosmetically challenged kilns

News: The Future of the Kiln Sitter



Sometimes small, overlooked details are the most important. A customer told me about an over-firing that happened in the kilns at a recreation center. Students bought cone 06 clay without informing the teacher. He loaded several studio kilns with student ware thinking that it was cone 6 clay. The clay over-fired, collapsed on the kiln shelves, and ran off the edges. This ruined 30 large, expensive shelves.

A teacher once told me that in the school setting, one of the main errors is in firing clay to the wrong temperature because the clay was not labeled. If you are not sure about the temperature of a clay, fire a test sample in a small kiln.

This also applies to glass. Yesterday I threw away a beautiful piece of dichroic, because I wasn’t sure whether it was rated COE 90 or 96. If you fuse COE 90 to a piece of COE 96, the glass will probably break, sometimes weeks after you fired it. You will not have to worry about labeling glass if you buy only fusing compatible glass. Otherwise separate by COE number, and clearly label all containers.



Lise Brown of Nashville, Tennessee wrote, “A 6" strip of skin from my dad's forearm is still fried onto the side of the kiln where he fell against it, receiving third-degree burns. (He threw up his arm to save his face.) Every time before turning on a kiln, I check for combustibles and safety hazards and also make sure the electrical cord isn't touching the side of the kiln. It's so easy to forget how important safety is when we work with kilns every day.”

Lise told me her father is okay now. Please remove tripping hazards from around your kiln.



The last Kiln Pointer was on firing painted glass.

Q. What type of paints would you use to paint on glass before firing it?

A. The paint is called Glassline and made by the Clay Art Center in Tacoma, WA:

The paint can be brushed or sprayed onto the glass. It can also be applied directly from the squeeze bottle, which includes metal tips in three sizes.

Q. Is it normal for the paint on a kiln to peel? What about rust?

A. Peeling, discolored paint around the door of a front-loading kiln is normal and is nothing to be concerned about. Kilns do not stay new looking for long, because they undergo drastic temperature changes.

The rust is also normal even on stainless steel kilns. To reduce rust to a minimum, fire only dry greenware. You can fire moist greenware using the controller's Pre-Heat feature, but it is better to fire only dry ware.



As you may have heard, W. P. Dawson, the manufacturer of the Kiln Sitter, is out of business. This has caused a lot of worry in the industry. Here is a message that came today from The Edward Orton Jr. Ceramic Foundation about the future of the Kiln Sitter:

“Orton knows that many of you are concerned that you will not be able to get replacement parts for your Dawson Kiln Sitter and that you will be forced to purchase an expensive alternative. There has been much speculation and rumors about the status of the Dawson Kiln Setter and replacement parts.

“Orton is taking positive action to work with the owners of Dawson to acquire the necessary assets to continue the production of the Kiln Setter and provide the industry a long term, reliable source of parts for the Kiln Setter. This process and the ramp up of production will take a few more weeks to complete. Orton will strive to make the process as efficient as possible so that you can get replacement parts as soon as practical. A public announcement will be made as soon as parts are available. Monitor the Orton website to be the first to know.

“The Edward Orton Jr. Ceramic Foundation manufactures and supplies pyrometric cones, kiln vents, electronic temperature controllers and firing supplies to the ceramic industry worldwide.”


By the time Hurricane Ike reached Mesquite, Texas last Saturday, the storm had become a gentle wind that blew rain against the northern side of my house. I hope all of you along the coast escaped Ike and are safe at home now.

Thank you,

With best wishes,

Arnold Howard Paragon Industries, L.P. – Better Designed Kilns 2011 South Town East Blvd. Mesquite, Texas 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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