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Q & A Monday, 4/8/2013

Jodi McRaney RushoWow, time flies, here we are in April already.  I spent last week participating in a grueling Fine Art show called Art & Soup.  I was able to show and get lots of good feedback on a new series of recycled pate de verre panels, which I’ll be sharing in the next weeks.  But, for now, onward to the Questions and Answers!  These are all reader questions that I am reposting here in case anyone else has the same questions.  Reader details have been omitted for privacy.  If you submitted one of these questions and want attribution and a back link, please let me know.

  • Q:  I just got a kiln, I carefully researched and researched and finally bought one, a small one for glass 8×8, figured it would be a good  beginners kiln. It comes with a digital pyrometer. When I was shopping around and contacting numerous kiln outlets, one of the places told me I needed to have a device for controlling temperatures.  But they were at least $200 more. They warned me if I didn’t get one  of these I would “have to babysit the kiln.” Well, I thought, so? I  have to babysit the dishwasher or else it overflows, there’s a lot of  things in my life I have to babysit, what’s one more thing?  I finally found your website because using recycled glass is the goal  and I’ve been saving bottles and jars and broken dishes for almost a  year while I saved up for my kiln.  So I get my kiln and I’m reading your information and I was, to put it  mildly, shocked!! I’m figuring out how to read the ramp time  information and looking at two of your ramp times one was 13.5 hours  and one was 22.5 hours. Maybe I’m still not reading these right, but  still, I thought babysitting would be and hour or 2 or 3. As I work  full time I have maybe 2 hours at night and then the weekends I’m out  running to complete errands or other events and having to be home  monitoring the kiln for 12+ hours is not possible. So my kiln sits by  the box it came in, unused, for almost 3 week nows.  I figure there’s 2 solutions. (well, maybe 3, if one of them is that  I’m totally not reading the ramp info properly)  1. Find projects that will only need to be fired for a few hours.  2. Bite the proverbial bullet and buy a controller unit.  http://www.skutt.com/glass/products/GM-2LTcontroller.php  That’s another $400. Or I could try and find a used kiln that has a  controller. That of course could take forever.  Man!! live and learn.  Do you have any suggestions regarding Solution #1 (projects with a  short fire time) or any of the rest?  Thank you so much. I love your site!! I’m completely inspired.
  • A:  You did figure the firing schedule times out, they do typically take 12-18+ hours. The slow ramp up is to keep the glass from thermal shocking, and the slow ramp down is a part of the annealing process, and is pretty important. HOWEVER.  The smaller the piece of glass, the more stable it is (try breaking a 1/4″ square piece, it takes a hammer) so it should be entirely possible for you to fire, say, jewelry pieces with an accelerated ramp up, and then skip most of the ramp down, just turn off the kiln and let it cool. I say ‘theoretically’ because I haven’t tried it yet. Based on my experience though, it should work. I also just picked up a tiny (6 x 6″) kiln with a pyrometer but no controller, so we can learn together.  I would start with this firing schedule and see what happens:
    500/hr to 1550, hold 6
    9999 to 1040 hold 20
    off to room temperature
    I’m willing to bet this will process will take some experimentation, so take very good notes because it will save you time in the long run. The good news is, after not very long, you will know everything there is to know about your kiln. Don’t be discouraged, anything is possible, we just may not have discovered it yet! You may be able to compress the firing schedule more, I would do a test and if it turns out, speed up to 525 and do it again. This will probably work best if your pieces are around an inch square. Also, not all bottles melt the same, so try a couple different colors and see if one works better than others.
  • Q:  I saw your post on epic kiln carving and I have a question. I have wanted to try something like this for a while, but have been freaked out about it. Well, I am going to try now. My question is: when you did your crane design, did you put the same fiber paper under the design too- like a bed of that then the layers on top? or did you build your layers on the kiln shelf? would a piece of thinfire shelf paper work instead under it? I would like to know before I fire- I have my design all cut out already- very excited! its smallish- 8 x 10 to start.
  • A:  That’s an excellent question.  Because I was using the big kiln, I couldn’t take out the shelf and build the pattern right on it, and leaning over into a kiln for a long time isn’t my idea of fun. I used a piece of thinfire to build the whole fiber paper design on, then lifted up the thinfire and transferred the whole thing to the kiln (a few things slid, but not many) before I put the glass on.
  • Q:Thank you for your newsletter, it is great and very inspirational.  Do you use a template when carving the glass? How do you put the design onto the glass for carving as the glass is continuously wet?
  • A:  that is a very good question.  I’m assuming that we are talking about carving with a dremel tool and diamond bits vs. kiln carving. So, I’ve tried these things: drawing on the pattern with sharpie and then coating it with chapstick or lipgloss.  Works okaybuying a ‘professional’ Sharpie marker, the solvent is different, so it supposedly stays on wet, oily or dusty surfaces.  Works pretty darn well.

    wax glass marking pencil.  Nope

    I’ve just purchased some oil based paint pens that are supposed to be indestructible, but haven’t had time to try them.

    When I’ve done a lot of repetitive carving, I’ve printed the template out on my laser printer on plastic film and put it under the glass.  Because it’s plastic, it doesn’t deteriorate in water and I can see what I’m carving.  I did a large order of several hundred candy dishes that way.

    I could see that working with a sharpie drawing on plastic film as well.  The plastic will hold the ink better than the glass will.

    Conclusions:

    for one off templates, use a professional grade Sharpie or oil paint pen
    for multiple carvings, use a plastic film template under the glass.