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can a pottery kiln be converted into a bead annealer
hooked on glass
I'm thinking yes, however I'm not sure of the annealing schedule. Pottery is fired much higher then glass. I've seen glass melted inside the bottom of a dish, so I know you can place glass in with clay, but not sure of temp. schedule.
Pottery kilns can be used if you turn the temp down and set up the right schedule for temperature changes. The problem you run into is loading. Most, if not all, pottery kilns load from the top and are meant to be loaded cold and heated up. if you're batch annealing this is fine, if you're loading as you work you're likely to lose your eyebrows. some can be converted with retrofitted bead doors and such, but for load as you work you're probably better off to get a kiln designed for bead work.
Another issue to consider is that you will need to make sure the kiln is clean of all dusts, glaze residue, particles, etc. because glass has a very low melting temperature and if your kiln isn't clean the glass will pick up almost anything it touches the moment it gets too hot. Beads shouldn't be melted in a kiln, obviously, but you could have this issue if you use it for fusing glass or if you put the bead in a little too soon after you have finished working it.
I used my husband's Skutt pottery kiln to batch anneal beads before I bought a Jen-Ken. It was a huge pain in the neck because I had to ramp up, hold, and ramp down manually, and I had to wait so long for usable beads after creating them in the flame, but at least I could anneal beads.
When I first started with glass, someone on another board gave me instructions on how to use a pottery/ceramic kiln for glass. I fuse large pieces and also anneal my beads in one of three ceramic kilns in my lil' studio.
You will not be successful with firing to cones though (cones are put on kiln sitter to fire ceramics or pottery). There are several ways you can anneal your work in the kiln though.
1. You can purchase a thermocouple, put the end in the kiln, turn on the kiln, when you reach the top temperature you wish, you then start "babysitting" the kiln. Turning the kiln on and off to keep the temperature in a consistant range to anneal. Turn off kiln after annealing cycle and let it cool down.
2. You can purchase a set-point controller and plug your kiln into the controller...ramp up to temp you wish, babysit the kiln by turning the kiln on and off to keep constant temperature while beads anneal. Turn off kiln after annealing cycle.
3. You can purchase a controller that will allow you to input several ramp schedules then you can select the schedule for whatever type of work you are doing, turn that kiln on, work your glass and let the controller take care of the rest. :)
Thank you (you know who you are) for making it possible for me to have several years of fun with my glass and ceramic kilns! :wave:
Feel free to pm me with any questions you may have on using a ceramic kiln. If I do not know the answer, I'll find it for you. :)
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