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How to Store Kiln Shelves

Here is the shelf cart that Dennis Sieving built for his wife, Julie.


How to Store Kiln Shelves

Reader Response: More on cutting element pigtails; Ann Davis and her Paragon ad

Recent Q&As: Does frequency of use affect a kiln’s warranty?

A Kiln Story: Lizzy the Kiln Cat

Memorable Quote

News: Paragon KM-Series Knife Making Furnaces Available with Side-Swing Doors



Kiln shelves are flat slabs of fireclay that support layers of ware inside the firing chamber. Shelves last a long time when treated with care. Storage is an important aspect of proper care.

1) Store the kiln shelves in a dry area. Moist shelves can crack or even explode inside a kiln. A freshly kiln-washed shelf should be allowed to dry thoroughly before firing.

2) There is less danger of cracking if you store shelves vertically in a shelf rack rather than stack them horizontally. The photo shows a shelf rack, or cart, made by Dennis Sieving of Sedalia, Missouri for his wife, Julie. Dennis has separated the shelves with slots cut into the wooden rack.

3) If you stack the shelves against each other in storage, the sides with kiln wash should face each other. This prevents flakes of kiln wash from transferring to the underside of other shelves.

4) A kiln shelf cart should have casters so you can move the cart next to the kiln during loading and unloading.

5) Before storing shelves, remove bits of glass or glaze from them. Wear leather gloves when examining shelves. Small shards of glass or glaze are very sharp and not always easy to see.

6) The shelf in a clamshell kiln can be left in the kiln between firings. Layers of shelves in a front-loading kiln can also be left in the kiln provided you fire the same type of ware each time. Just reach into the kiln between the stacked shelves to load and unload the kiln. Make sure the ware does not touch the kiln walls.

7) Handle shelves as gently as you would a computer monitor. Shelves are delicate.



A recent Kiln Pointer, “Cutting the Element Pigtails,” recommends tools for cutting off the twisted ends of heating elements. Sharon Moffitt of Weisser Glass Studio & Gallery in Kensington, Maryland wrote, “To cut off the pigtails, I use the wire cutter on a heavy pair of lineman's pliers with about an 8" handle. Never had a problem getting through them. Also, make sure you're wearing your safety glasses when you cut them, and be sure the cut-offs aren't rattling around in the control box afterwards.” Thank you, Sharon, for the pointers.

We are running an ad in “Metal Clay Artist” magazine of Ann Davis. She is next to her Paragon SC-3. The kiln has a wig, eye lashes, and a crown. I asked her recently if anyone ever commented on the ad. “Oh yes,” she replied. “At some artists’ conventions I hear, ‘I know I've seen you somewhere before--have we met?'”



Q. Will using a Paragon kiln in a commercial setting void the warranty?

A. No. Use the kiln every day if you want. Frequency of use will not affect the Paragon kiln warranty.



“I don’t bother trying to make out cones through peepholes or even look at the computer controller when I fire,” wrote Jan Parzybok, author of “A Potter's Sojourn.” “Instead, I go into the studio and study my cat. When I flip the first kiln switches, Lizzy is curled on a ware rack tight as a billiard ball. About half way to cone six, she’s relaxed on her side, tail out in back, legs stretched and separated Tennessee Walker style. By the time she’s splayed out as though pinned on a hide stretcher, I know cone six has had plenty of heat.”

Note to glass artists: Jan refers to pyrometric cones, which are small pyramids of clay that bend to indicate when ceramic ware has received the correct amount of heat work.



Gloria Conwell of Enfield, Connecticut wrote, “Suggested quote--something I have lived by for over 50 years since I first found it. It has gotten me through many tough situations:"

"The only thing for feeling sad is to learn something; learning is the only thing which never fails." --from “The Once and Future King,” by T. H. White.

“This is Merlin's advice to young Arthur (aka 'the Wart') long before he ever becomes king of England,” Gloria explained. “I might be paraphrasing here. The beautiful thing about glass and firing objects is that there is always some new experiment to try, something new to get excited about. I find the media news to be so depressing, and the consequences and ensuing limitations of aging to be even more so, but, when I go into my studio and start playing with the kilns, all that fades into irrelevance and nothingness.”



The door on the Paragon KM-series knife making furnaces has always been hinged at the bottom. The door drops forward to open and includes a counter-balance handle. The KM-series furnaces are now available with a side-swing door. A KM-series furnace is the same price whether it is equipped with a drop-door or a side-door.


We have a black kitten named Mr. Darcy. A friend picked him up from the service road to Highway 635 while cars roared past. Tiny, long-legged Mr. Darcy is the very picture of confidence. He chases adult cats through the house to play as if he were a full-grown tiger. When he hears my wife, Sandi, arrive home, he runs to greet her. Mr. Darcy reminds me of Karen Pester’s glass-fused dichroic cat. You can see it at .

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 2014, by Paragon Industries, L.P.

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