Q & A Mondays are answers to reader questions submitted via email or social media. All personal information has been removed for privacy reasons and messages have been edited for clarity. You may submit your own questions through the About/Contact page.
Q: I have a 7″ saw but I can only cut small bottles because of the guard. I need one that can retract. I’m just learning to cut and feel kinda lost.
A: Hi there, I had a 7″ for years, and it was fine, once I got a bigger saw I wished I had upgraded sooner.
Below is a photo of my brand new (this month) saw set up. I had the same saw and blade for about 5 years, and was very happy, but wore it out completely, so did a complete upgrade. I don’t spend money lightly, so when I say this is worth every cent, I really do mean it. (although do make sure you get the coupons!)
This thing is amazing, you can raise and lower the blade and it easily tilts for angles. I always wear earplugs with it, and a face shield is well worth the money. Without the safety gear it makes me a little nervous because it’s so loud and flips tiny bits of glass. With the gear, I can take my time and it works well. I’ll do a video of the new saw when I get a minute.
Let me know if I can help with anything else,
Q: So another couple questions.
1- My friend is telling me that his ceramics kiln isn’t suited for glass. He says that a glass kiln is much different from a ceramics kiln. Especially in that a glass kiln only heats from the top & needs closer/different temp & time settings.
2- I also was reading about microwave melting/fusing of glass. So can I use any working microwave that I can get my hands on or is there some way I have to test the MW to see that its adequate? Was actually thinking of getting one from a thrift store or online yard sale. I figure its better to start w a small investment & see if I really can create good artwork & such.
A: As long as the ceramic kiln is programmable, it can be used for glass. I bought a ceramic kiln first and used it for 7+ years exclusively for glass before I got a glass kiln. You’ll need to fire slower, and slightly hotter to compensate for the side elements. It will take a bit of practice, as will any kiln. This is not an art form that you will be amazing at on the first firing, there is a fair amount of experimentation and work that will happen. It is, however, incredibly rewarding, addictive and so much fun!
I would bypass the microwave kiln completely, and keep an eye on your classified ads for a real kiln. The MW kiln is very small, so you can do pendants, and that’s about all. You can’t use any kind of ceramic mold in a MW kiln, so that’s pretty limiting as well. Every person I know that bought one has since bought a real kiln. Not to be terribly discouraging, but I don’t think it’s a good investment. [Note here, I know one amazing artist that is working with a microwave kiln for raku, Cheryl of Firehorse Designs, so I know you can make spectacular things in one, but it takes diligence, patience, and a lot of practice.]