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Kiln Pointers

Photographing Your Artwork

Glass fused city scene by Roal Enix. Flash behind the plexiglass and diffused flash in front.


Photographing Your Artwork

Reader Response: Removing glue from glass bottles

Recent Q&As: Installing kilns for seminars; firing raku in enameling kilns

Memorable Quote



Product photography is as demanding as the kiln-fired arts. Nevertheless, I have seen exquisite photos by potters, enamelists, and jewelers. You can get good results, too, if you have the patience to experiment.

Keep detailed notes of each photo setup so you can reproduce the lighting from your best shots. Long after you have forgotten how you shot the picture, you will still have your notes. Include a sketch of the lighting setup. Show the types of lights, distances, and angles.

Lighting reflects off surfaces the same way a ball bounces on a pool table. Move the lights to change where the reflection appears in the glaze, glass, or enameling.

On-camera flash (the type that is mounted to the camera) is too limiting. Get a flash adapter so you can take the flash off the camera and place it to the side and so that you can use multiple flash units. Or you could even buy a flash pack, which is a power source that flash units plug into. I've used a Novatron for over 20 years and love it. My wife and I used to shoot weddings with the Novatron.

I've had interesting results by placing glass on top of a sheet of white plexiglass. Place a light behind the plexiglass. That’s how I photographed the glass-fused street scene shown in this pointer.

Study beautiful photos of pottery or glass to figure out how they were lit. Sometimes small reflections in photos show the types of lights used and how they were positioned. I learned that in a fashion photography class. The instructor showed us close-up magazine photos of fashion models. Reflected in the eyes of the models were the light sources, usually an umbrella light or box light.

One way to learn lighting is to study glossy brochures of expensive jewelry and silverware. It is very difficult to hide all the reflections in silverware, and sometimes those reflections actually enhance the subject.

Collect great still life photos from brochures and advertisements. File them in a 3-ring notebook with page protectors. Even if they are not your exact area of specialty such as pottery, you can still learn from them.

Try to find a copy of “Still Life: A Guide to Professional Lighting Techniques,” by Roger Hicks and Frances Schultz. It is filled with stunning photos, each with instructions and a lighting diagram.

Take still-life photography classes. The best ones are taught by advertising photographers. One class can open a new world to you.



The last two Kiln Pointers included information on slumped bottles. Ginger from Ginger Glass & Crafts of Irvington, New York wrote, “Use Goo Be Gone to clean off the label glue. Then clean the bottles in a dishwasher. The Goo Be Gone removes all the glue, and the bottles come out shiny.

“Always make sure the bottles are clean and dry before you put them in the kiln. I also full-fuse the bottles, put decals on them, and I have put dichroic slide scraps inside them. They all turn out great, without devitrification. They make great cheese boards and cracker holders. Just make sure you fire the darker colors separately from the light clear bottles. They slump and melt at a different rate.”



Q. I want to fire six 120-volt kilns at a seminar. Will that overload the electric system?

A. It is safe to fire six kilns simultaneously during your seminar as long as they are plugged into separate 120-volt circuits. If the building where you are holding the seminar does not have six separate circuits in one room, the kilns will have to be fired in two or more rooms. Do not plug two kilns into outlets that are wired to the same circuit. The circuit breaker will trip when you turn on the second kiln, but the circuit wire will overheat if the breaker fails.

Q. Is it okay to use the E- and Q-series kilns for raku?

A. Yes, you can use them for raku firing. The firebricks and elements can withstand the temperature change from opening the door to remove the raku pieces.



“Working in my small studio keeps me sane and happy. I forget about everything else and am grateful to do what I do.” --Heidrun Schmid


This week I have been making videotapes for Paragon. I learned to produce videos by volunteering at the Mesquite, Texas Public Access cable station in the 80s. The station aired my karate demos and interviews.

You can watch the latest Paragon video here: P006 Crating a Top-Loading Studio Kiln

(Or go to, click on Kiln Audio & Video, and scroll down the list.) You will find audios for mp3 players and a growing list of kiln videos. I welcome your suggestions for new video topics. The newest video is “P006 Crating a Top-Loading Studio Kiln.” Watch the video if you ever need to ship a kiln.

Thank you,

Wishing you a great weekend,

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 2009, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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