Thursday, May 8, 2014

Small 120-volt kilns for small spaces

We offer a firing service to those in the Philadelphia area, and one of our more popular models is our tiny ConeArt BX119 kiln. While plenty of people rent out the kiln for glaze tests, most are actually working on smaller-scale objects, primarily jewelry and buttons.  We've even seen a few customers over the years wind up purchasing their own test kiln, because these are usually built in a size that is manageable for a smaller space, such as an apartment, AND -- total bonus -- they are typically wired for 120v, which means they can be plugged in to your standard household outlet. Because we've noticed that people have been surprised to hear this, here is a rundown of our smaller kilns that could make a great addition to your home studio, especially if you are working on a small scale.

Below, I've broken down our small-scale kiln offerings into three categories: mid- and high-fire (kilns that reach cone 6 or cone 10); glass-specific (many of which come equipped with digital controllers with glass-specific programs); and mixed media, which are suggested for glass, some low-fire clays, and metal clays such as PMC (which are typically VERY low-temperature). Why the distinction?  Although there are SO many options out there for smaller 120v kilns, they aren't all built with the same purposes. As always, before you buy a kiln, make sure you know what you'll be using it for -- kilns designed to handle lower-fire materials such as glass and PMC aren't always capable of transitioning to the higher temperatures that, say, porcelain requires. Just something to keep in mind! Without further ado...


Smaller clay projects, including clay jewelry, can be fired in the kilns listed below.  They are capable of bringing your work to both bisque- and glaze-temperatures, which means they all reach the cone 6-10 range. 

Our newest small kiln offering is the Paragon Happy Clam. This is a clam shell kiln that has an interior space of 8"x8"x6.5". A clam shell kiln is exactly what it sounds like -- instead of having  door on the front or top of the kiln that you open to load, this style is basically a shell that fits over a floor with a hinge.  

Happy as a clam

The benefit of a clam shell model is in the loading. If you find yourself making delicate, tenuous work (as many glass and jewelry makers do), you may find it difficult or tedious to load a kiln stack -- even a tiny one! -- from the top or the side.  With a clam shell kiln, you build your stack in such a way that it's accessible from 3 out of 4 sides, ensuring that you can build the perfect load.  Then, you simply lower the body of the small kiln over your work. 

With a digital controller and a cone-10 firing capacity, the ConeArt BX119 is a powerful, yet easy-to-use test-sized 6-sided kiln.

ConeArt BX119

As I mentioned in the intro, this is one of the kilns that we use (on a near-daily basis!) as part of our in-house firing service; having personally done many glaze tests in this specific kiln, I've long been a fan of its quick, reliable firings and easy-to-use 12-key controller (that comes pre-programmed with both bisque and glaze programs). Of course, you also have the option to write and store your own firing programs in the kiln's computer, and although it's compact, it's still a great shape for accommodating smaller work. I can fit 4-5 mugs per firing, and the space is actually large enough to accommodate our large bead rack - so that's a great tip for you porcelain jewelers out there!

Finally, the Olympic Doll/Test kiln is a great option for anyone looking for a relatively affordable, energy-efficient kiln. 


You can select your preferred features on this kiln -- it can be built to be manual, or can come equipped with a 3- or 12-key digital controller. Likewise, when you buy an Olympic kiln, you can know that you've made an energy-efficient choice. While all kilns strive to contain heat as well as possible, this has become a cornerstone of Olympic's selling points. Their kilns tend to have thicker bricks, and therefore, they hold in more heat. This can be a really nice feature when it's summertime and you're firing your kiln...inside your house.


What makes a small glass kiln stand apart from kilns designed to handle ceramics?  A few things, really. In the first place, glass kilns tend to have an element placed in the kiln's lid to ensure even heat coming down from the top of the kiln.  Because even a small differential in heat distribution can result in cracked glasswares, this element serves as a very important safeguard -- and while you might see such an element in SOME kilns intended for firing ceramics, it's certainly rare. 

EvenHeat GT-14-6

The nice thing about this EvenHeat Studio Pro 14 is the fact that is does have a full 14" x 14" space for all of your in-home glass projects. 

We find this size is definitely on the larger end of 120-volt kilns; its clam shell model will be helpful when loading delicate work, and the ceiling element ensures even, top-down heating. this particular kiln comes with a very easy-to-use 3-key controller that has pre-set programs specifically designed for glass slumping and fusing.

For the glass or jewelry artist who is primarily looking for an annealing kiln, the EvenHeat Fishbone is a straightforward choice.

EvenHeat Fishbone

Specifically, this is a kiln designed for glass beadwork, so if that is your chosen media, look no further! 


Mixed media kilns are great for artists who tend to use a lot of materials -- glass, enamel, and PMC (metal clay) are the most common mixed media that are used in these kilns, although certain models can indeed do both glass and low-fire clay.  With smaller-model kilns, it's not too common to see them designed to handle both glasswork AND higher-firing ceramics, so please keep that in mind as you shop mixed media, and read the firing capacities carefully.  As always, call us or email us fi you have any questions!

For the fashionable small-object maker working in glass slumping/fusing, enameling, or metal clay (PMC), the Evenheat Kingpin 88 is popular because it comes in a wide variety of colors. This means you can literally match your kiln to your decor!

EvenHeat Kingpin. The fashionable kiln choice.

A great all-around kiln for mixed media is the Paragon Caldera. This is a very popular mixed-media kiln that actually CAN do it all -- from PMC to glass to, yes, even high-fire porcelain!

Paragon Caldera

This kiln is multi-use, fits into your home, and can pretty much fire anything you throw at it. Plus, it's very affordable. This kiln also comes with a few customization options - you can opt to add a bead window, or a collar, which increases the capacity of your kiln. 

So that's it for our general overview of smaller kilns -- we actually have many, many more on our site, so hopefully this primer will help you get started as you look for the perfect piece of equipment for your space. If you have any questions, we're happy to answer them -- call us at 215-427-9665. 


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