In my first blog, I mentioned how my addiction began with a class at Bea Sharp’s Glass Studio. After which, since I didn’t have a place of my own, I would drive the hour to Bea’s studio in South San Francisco and would use her equipment, buy glass from her, and then she would fire my creations in her kilns. A perfect set-up, but I craved to be able to have my own studio and kiln.
My wonderful husband set up a craiglist search for kilns and one day saw a small never been used 8″ kiln (Paragon Caldera) available for a great price. It was simultaneously good and bad as it was a young girl about 16 years old selling it. She had gotten it for Christmas several years before but had been afraid to use it and so was now selling it. We both wanted her not be afraid of using it, but at the same time, I really wanted the kiln. Oh well, I bought it!
This was the perfect starter kiln. I could play on small pieces (anything less than 6 inches) and made lots of wonderful small plates while learning many new things. It ran on 110v and so I could put it almost anywhere in my house and even take it on vacations when we were driving somewhere as it fit nicely in the back of the car.
As you would expect, I eventually outgrew this kiln as an only kiln as I dreamt of larger possible designs. We learned about the Glass Craft and Bead Expo which takes place in Las Vegas every spring and headed there to learn more about kilns. We talked to all the manufacturers and then looked for a used one from one of their onsite classes that they sell at a discount at the end of the show. This time, I ended up with a Skutt Firebox 14 inch kiln perfect for larger plates and bowls. It also runs on 110v. I will have to say that this kiln gets the most use these days. The downside of this one is that it is short and so cannot be used for vases or pot melts.
As luck would have it, I happened across the skeletons of a kiln at a Bay Area nerd surplus store which they were selling as “bricks” and I bought it for $64. My again wonderful husband figured out the brand (Skutt KM714), contacted Skutt support and bought all the pieces needed to turn it into a working kiln. He welded the elements where broken, added the hinges and a controller and wiring. This one is actually taller and so gets used mostly for vases and pot melts. The downside is that is runs on 240V and so it needs to get wheeled into the laundry room to use the Dryer’s power whenever it gets used, so not as convenient.
For now, I am set and very happy with my kilns. When people ask me what they need to get started, the first question is, “what are you hoping to make: jewelry, large plates, vases?” I was lucky enough to find a wide variety of kilns to meet different needs. All three of my kilns still get regular use depending on what I am making and it is nice to have multiple kilns!
If I had a wish what kiln would I wish for next? I am not sure an exact one or brand. But I do know that from an energy perspective, a bigger kiln where I could fire multiple pieces at a time is probably best to save energy as I do rack up quite an energy bill each month with three kilns firing almost daily.
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