Drawing a firing schedule on graph paper may help you to visualize the stages of the firing.
Reader Response: Kiln-fired gifts
Recent Q&As: Vent holes for a kiln with lid elements; did you forget to drill the vent hole in the door of my kiln?; starting a firing in a warm kiln.
News: Ed Hoy Passes
The Romans and Egyptians fired glass and pottery thousands of years ago. By observing the color of the kiln’s firing chamber, ancient artists knew when to adjust the temperature.
Today’s kilns simplify the firing process so you can concentrate more on creating and less on the technical details. Nevertheless, just as in ancient times, even firing a digital kiln requires knowledge of the firing stages of glass, clay, and other materials.
A firing schedule is a set of temperatures and rates needed to fire a particular project in a kiln. You can find firing schedules for both manual and digital kilns. As you gain experience, you will understand that the times and temperatures listed in a firing schedule are not exact--they are only general guidelines. Every kiln model is different. People who own several types of kilns alter their firing schedules to suit each kiln. As you gain confidence, you will alter firing schedules the way a cook alters recipes.
Once you have a good firing schedule, you can duplicate results from one firing to the next. This is why you should keep records of your firings. You can obtain recommended firing schedules from friends, online glass discussion forums, and the websites of glass manufacturers. For current website addresses, visit www.paragonweb.com and click on Support. From the drop menu, select Resource Links.
Whether you check the ware visually as the ancients did, or you use a digital controller, the kiln is only a tool. No matter what type of control system you use, the results, ultimately, depend upon your creative judgment.
In an earlier Kiln Pointer, I wrote about kiln-fired gifts. David Kittrell of Kittrell/Riffkind Art Glass in Dallas, Texas wrote, “The time I commit to making a personal present is also time that I tend to spend with that special person in my mind, reliving moments with them.
David added, “The person receiving your gift typically has little knowledge of what you did, how you did it, or how long it took you to make their present. Most artists give a statement with their art items to explain that, and it would benefit both you and the present recipient to add a little explanation to the gift.”
Q. My top-loading kiln has elements in the lid and sidewalls. I want to add an Orton Vent Master to the kiln. Do I need to drill holes in the lid?
A. No. Air intake holes are not drilled in a kiln that has lid elements. The only holes needed are drilled in the firebrick bottom, where the vent cup pulls air from the kiln during firing.
Q. The vent hole in the door of my Paragon E-series kiln is punched in the steel case. But the hole has not been drilled. Did you forget to drill it?
A. No. The 1/2” hole is stamped in the case, but the firebrick behind the hole is solid so that you can drill the correct hole size for your pyrometer. You can also drill a 1/2” vent hole.
Q. Should I wait until the kiln is completely cool before I start another firing? If I start at 122 degrees F / 50 degrees C, should I change the rate or the target temperature?
A. Paragon recommends that you allow the kiln to cool to room temperature before unloading it. Nevertheless, if you begin the firing in a warm kiln, you do not need to alter the firing schedule.
"It is never too late to be what you might have been." —George Eliot
NEWS: ED HOY PASSES
Ed Hoy passed away March 29, 2013 at the age of 92. In the 1970s he opened a small shop that became Ed Hoy’s International, the largest wholesale glass distributor in North America.
Ed Hoy, a father of five, had “the uncanny ability to brighten the day of anyone he met,” said his son Edward. Many in the glass business would agree. For instance, a few months after World War II ended, Ed was a soldier stationed in Frankfurt, Germany. One day he gave hot dogs to a German couple. They were grateful; food was scarce in Germany.
Their granddaughter, little Gertrud Klaus, was with them. Ed picked up the child, reached into his jacket, and gave her chocolates and an orange. Sixty-three years later, Ed discovered that the little girl was the mother of Petra Kaiser, author of “Introduction to Glass Fusing.” Gertrud always remembered that moment of kindness, perhaps because it was the first orange she had ever seen. “My love for America was born then,” said Gertrud.
After World War II, Ed returned to a career in technical photography. He helped to design lenses and was part of the technical development of the Apollo space program. In the 1970s he left photography and opened a small shop that eventually became Ed Hoy’s International, now located in a 75,000-square-foot building in Warrenville, Illinois, just outside Chicago.
The glass world will miss Ed's smile and his gentle disposition.
It was a pleasure to meet many of you at NCECA (the pottery convention) last March in Houston, Texas, and two weeks later at Glass Craft & Bead Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada.
At NCECA, a woman told me, “I have a 40-year-old Paragon. I bought it used for $300.” I asked her if she had a picture of it. She pulled out her iPhone, laughed, and said, “Doesn’t everyone carry a picture of their kiln with them?”
During my travels I met a woman who taught glass fusing in her elementary school art class. Her 4th and 5th grade students handled glass with care, yet they kept coming to her with small cuts. Eventually the teacher realized that they were getting cut so she would apply her colorful bandages, which were decorated with bright lips. When she started to use plain bandages, the kids stopped getting cuts.
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 / firstname.lastname@example.org / www.paragonweb.com / www.facebook.com/paragonkilns
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Copyright 2013, by Paragon Industries, L.P.