Thursday, August 20, 2009

Firing the Bead Kiln

I suppose I should have titled this "REfiring The Bead Kiln" ... but no matter....

The interior size of my bead kiln is 8"x8"x 6¾". I use 7" kiln posts to rest the bead rods upon. I also use them as weights on top of the rods. This helps to keep the rods from sagging under the weight of the beads.

The first layer consists of three beads. If I am using a larger bead, such as a 20-22 mm,I will only use one bead per rod.

The next step is to place a kiln post on top of the rods. This holds them in place and keeps the thin rod from sagging. The thick ones sag too. More? Less? Exactly the same.

When I stack the kiln posts, I offset them slightly. If they are going to topple (and they often will topple over any firings above 1800 degrees), I want them to topple outwards and not inwards. If they topple inwards I have a lot of beads which end up melting together. That's a big firing waste.

The second layer of rods hold 4 beads. Again, I place the kiln posts on top, slightly offsetting them. On the third (and final) layer, I use 5 or 6 beads, depending on their size. Again, on this top layer I finish by topping the rods with kiln posts.

I put the lid on top and look around to make sure I haven't left something flammable near the kiln. I set the firing rate and then it slowly fires for the next 8-12 hours.

Morning time comes and it is 11:30 am before the kiln cools enough to open. I usually wait until it is under 300 degrees. This was 235 degrees when I removed the lid.

Viola! Here they are fired. Notice that the kiln posts did topple ... however they toppled outward (as planned). It looks like a perfect firing. I'm happy with the way the glaze on the alphabet beads performed.

I have a new type of bead in this batch. It is an egg (or teardrop shape) bead, but I textured these. Also, in the bottom is a bead whistle. In the last (failed) firing the glaze didn't melt properly and it didn't make any sound at all when I tested it. I'm hoping that it will still whistle. Sometimes they sound great going in and terrible coming out. I don't sell the ones that don't work.

Now all that remains is to allow these to finish cooling so that I can remove these off their rods, photograph them, and hopefully they will all sell very soon so I can make more.

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