When most people think of kilns, pottery and clay jump to mind, but did you know that glass artists also use kilns? While potters use kilns designed for clay objects, glass artists use kilns that are specially designed for our needs.
Kilns come in two basic varieties for glass artists which I'll refer to as Annealers and Fusers.
When working hot glass and turning into a bead, sculpture, vessel or anything else, stress is added to the glass. This stress, if not repaired, can cause the item to crack or break, sometimes they can even explode!
Annealing is the process of keeping the glass at the appropriate temperature for a period of time in order to allow the molecules to align and remove the stress from the glass. Depending upon the type of glass you are using determines the annealing temperature because not all glass is the same, but we'll save that topic for another time.
Annealer kilns do just what their name implies, they are used to anneal the glass and make it strong and durable. They do not get hot enough to actually melt glass or fuse it together, which brings us to the second type of kiln.
My current bead kiln is an annealer that is much larger than my first kiln so I can make more beads in a single session and not have to stop when t he kiln fills up. Here's a picture of my annealing kiln in my basement.
This type of kiln can also be used to anneal glass, but they are not limited to just annealing. They have the ability to melt glass together to create different kinds of objects like plates, bowl, jewelry, etc.
Fusing does not use a torch like lampworking, instead pieces of cut glass are laid into a cold kiln and arranged into the pattern or design desired. The kiln is then heated (slowly to prevent glass breakage) to the glass' melting point where it fuses into a single piece of glass. Once the glass has fused sufficiently for the artist's design, the kiln is cooled down to annealing temperate and allowed to anneal and then cool slowly to room temperature.
The first kiln I bought for beadmaking was a fusing kiln since I thought I might want the flexibility to fuse as well as anneal. It's a great kiln and I still have it. The above picture is of me putting a bead into the kiln for annealing.
As always, if you have any questions or would like to suggest topics, I can be reached through this blog or through my web site or shop at:
Enjoy your weekend!