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Old 11-09-2008, 11:26 AM
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debradenzer debradenzer is offline
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Kilns

Hi all,
Being new to this forum and lampworking, I am hoping this question is not a redundant one. I have reviewed kiln information and it seems as though common consensus is that a kiln is absolutely necessary to bead making. Being a costly purchase, are there alternatives to purchasing a kiln for the annealing process? Or, better yet, are there alternatives to annealing?
Any thoughts, ideas, and help are welcome!

Deb
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Old 11-09-2008, 12:18 PM
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Dennis Brady Dennis Brady is offline
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Re: Kilns

Let's start with a little perspective. A kiln is NOT "absolutely necessary" for beadmaking. Museums everywhere have examples of glass art produced centuries before electric kilns were available.

Using a kiln to anneal beads will ensure your beads are more structurally stable, but annealing is NOT "absolutely necessary". Beads that aren't annealed or are inadequately annealed will be extremely brittle and break easily. They might even pop apart all on their own at some later time. There are many things you can do to slow down how fast your beads cool. The slower they cool, the more structurally stable they are. Severely retarding cooling won't replace annealing, but it will make considerable difference. The slower they are cooled, the better. In ancient times, they used all sorts of methods. The Persians used dried camel crap. We have a huge variety of materials that work extremely well at retarding cooling rates.

For your own use, there's nothing wrong with unannealed beads - but if you plan to give them away or sell them, it's a really bad idea. I suggest the best alternative to buying a kiln is renting one. Make a big batch of beads, cool them as slowly as you can, then take them to a kiln to fire for annealing. You don't need a glass kiln. Pottery kilns work just as well. Any kiln that can get up to the desired temperature and hold it there for the desired time will work perfectly.

"Costly" is relevant. You can get a kiln for as little as $200.00

You can find used pottery kilns for $100.00

Last edited by rosebead : 11-09-2008 at 02:01 PM. Reason: http://www.wetcanvas.com/tos/anti-spam.php
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Old 11-09-2008, 04:14 PM
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rosebead rosebead is offline
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Re: Kilns

Glass work is an expensive endeavor. There is no way of really getting around it.
I didn't get a kiln until I was sure that I was really going to do this long term.
You can save up all your beads & batch anneal them when you are ready, or find a local studio or another artist that will do it for a fee.
We have a wealth of info about this subject:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=176919
Comparison of kilns:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=212673
And you can always make your own kiln:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=162187
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Old 12-14-2008, 07:44 PM
Fire Mistress Fire Mistress is offline
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Re: Kilns

Hi Dennis,
I'm a relative newbie myself and would love to get a small kiln for my very modest home studio. Where can you get a kiln for $200 or maybe even a little more?
Thanks!
Renee
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Old 12-15-2008, 10:35 AM
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richsantaclaus richsantaclaus is offline
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Re: Kilns

Today's glass needs to be annealed despite what happened YEARS ago. I also feel you can get your work batch annealed by a glass person, try going to a glass store and asking if they can help you find someone to anneal your work for you. If you plan on doing this artwork forever, I recommend getting a kiln as glass can shatter if you do not anneal it. I know from experience! Once I made my first ever hollow bead, I was SO proud of it. I put it in my fiber blanket and the next morning it looked great. I was standing there after putting it down, back on the fiber blanket, and started to walk away. I heard a loud POP!!!!! 200 or more little slivers of my hollow bead were scattered all over the place in a 15" circle! That same day, I went to eBay and bid (and eventually won) a Jen Ken digital controlled kiln! Been happy ever since and NO popping beads or marbles since. Good luck.
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Old 12-15-2008, 10:48 AM
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Dennis Brady Dennis Brady is offline
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Re: Kilns

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fire Mistress
Hi Dennis,
I'm a relative newbie myself and would love to get a small kiln for my very modest home studio. Where can you get a kiln for $200 or maybe even a little more?
Thanks!
Renee

Check eBay, or Craig's list, or anywhere that sells used kilns. Any kiln that can produce enough heat will work for you. Many glass artisans (for fusing and torchworking) started with used ceramic kilns. I've seen lots sold for under $100. Some free.

One of my businesses (Victorian Art Glass) sells new AIM kilns for under $200.
http://www.vicartglass.com/products/...0120vTLFK.html

Before you buy, take some time to consider both your present and your future needs. I recommend you start by reading some of the Tutorials on kilns in Glass Campus.
http://www.glasscampus.com

Until you can afford a kiln, you might also consider finding a local shop or artisan that has a kiln and pay them to anneal your beads. If you carefully slow down cooling speed, your beads will be fine for a while and can be annealed later. It shouldn't cost you more than $10 to anneal a batch of beads. Our shop charges $10 for a 14" diameter kiln firing that holds 50 to 60 beads.
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Old 12-16-2008, 04:44 PM
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gubnavnania gubnavnania is offline
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Re: Kilns

Dennis,

as much as I love my AIM kiln, their service is crap.

I'm still waiting for them to let me know what's wrong with my digital controller since mid September. I contacted them more than 10 times either by email or phone call either to John or Sue and international calls for me at 4 am ARE very INCONVENIENCE.

If you can help to fix it, please do. Since I bought that kiln from you.
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Old 12-16-2008, 05:57 PM
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Dennis Brady Dennis Brady is offline
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Re: Kilns

Quote:
Originally Posted by gubnavnania
Dennis,

as much as I love my AIM kiln, their service is crap.

I'm still waiting for them to let me know what's wrong with my digital controller since mid September. I contacted them more than 10 times either by email or phone call either to John or Sue and international calls for me at 4 am ARE very INCONVENIENCE.

If you can help to fix it, please do. Since I bought that kiln from you.

Email me the details of what the problem is with the controller and I'll take it up with AIM.
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Old 12-16-2008, 06:05 PM
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gubnavnania gubnavnania is offline
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Re: Kilns

I posted the problem in LE and your replied were in there too.

http://www.lampworketc.com/forums/sh...d.php?t=104965
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Old 12-17-2008, 04:33 AM
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Re: Kilns

Sorry Dennis, while electric kilns are very modern annealing of glass is as old as glass itself, the need to anneal glass, even beads was understood right from the beginning, and various means were used to achieve it otherwise none of the ancient glass we have today would have survived.glass was worked over conical furnaces which functioned like a large bunsen burner and a chamber on the side was used to anneal.
cheers, Bernard
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Old 12-17-2008, 10:29 AM
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richsantaclaus richsantaclaus is offline
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Re: Kilns

You are totally right Bernard - thanks!
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Old 12-17-2008, 09:47 PM
Mike Jordan Mike Jordan is offline
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Re: Kilns

I find it hard to believe that the ancient fusers understood about annealing from the beginning. I bet they went for a long time not realizing why their glass was not staying together and they probably blamed it on one god or another (I wonder if there was ever a glass god?) for ruining their work. Or a competitor putting a spell on their work so it wouldn't come out right.

Even when annealing was discovered, they probably still didn't realize why it worked, just that if they held the fire at some amount for the same period of time, they had better successes with their glass than if they didn't do that. And those that realized that probably guarded their secret for a long time.

As for the ancient glass that has survived... it's probably a very very small percent of the total glass that was created over the last few thousand years. It's probably survived just because statistically, some glass was going to be created with the right annealing that let it stabalize and last. Of course then it had to make it past all of the dangers of it getting broke along the way. Kind of like the millions of salmon that are born each year, but only a small percentage manage to survive and find their way back to spawn.

But I would wager that it was centuries, if not more, before annealing was understood as a necessity in making glass. Other wise we would probably have even more ancient glass in the musiums, both older in age and quanity.

Mike
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Old 12-18-2008, 01:08 AM
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Re: Kilns

Interesting Mike, as glass grew out of the ceramic industry about 5000 years ago and the annealing of pottery was well understood it follows that the knowledge simply flowed over to glass, there are thousands of pieces of Roman glass, 2000 years old, in museums and polariscope tests show it to be annealed we are not any smarter than people from thousands of years ago, we might have more information available but we are certainly no smarter, almost all of the colours in glass and the methods of making them were available thousands of years ago, all worked out empirically as was the annealing.
cheers, Bernard
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Old 12-18-2008, 01:46 AM
Mike Jordan Mike Jordan is offline
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Re: Kilns

I think I read that the oldest known pottery is something like 20,000 years old. So pottery has been around awhile. But I don't think pottery was annealed until they started putting glazes on it and it was annealed for the glazes and not the clay itself. But then I wasn't there, so can't say for sure.

If the first glass workers used what had been learned from pottery and even metal annealing (making the metal stronger by fire), then they most certainly lost a LOT of glass in the beginning. I think the early dabblers of glass making were more concerned in finding the right combination of materials than they were annealing. And for glass to survive over 2000 years, it follows that it probably was annealed... but that doesn't mean that the people creating it understood annealing or practiced it. A few thousand peices of glass over a few thousand years is not a very large sample to be able to tell how a lot of pre-history glass was made. Since any glass that broke or failed in creation was probably pitched out into a pit somewhere, where it broke back down into it's base elements.

Once it was determined the basic materials needed to make glass, then they probably spent the time to learn how to make things out of it, how to create different colors of glass and how to keep it from self destructing when the unknown stresses let lose.

But then nobody really knows what the first glass makers did. So much of the very early history was never written down or has been lost... or poorly interpretered on limited information. So nobody knows if it was by design or by luck until good records did start to be kept. If you make the same thing enough different ways, something is bound to be done correctly.

I don't disagree with you that proper annealing was known... I just disagree with you on when it was done as a concious part of the process. In my opinion, it was a long time after glass had already been created and used for what ever it was used for back in the beginning.

Mike
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Old 12-18-2008, 11:16 AM
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Dennis Brady Dennis Brady is offline
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Re: Kilns

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Jordan
I think I read that the oldest known pottery is something like 20,000 years old. So pottery has been around awhile. But I don't think pottery was annealed until they started putting glazes on it and it was annealed for the glazes and not the clay itself. But then I wasn't there, so can't say for sure.

If the first glass workers used what had been learned from pottery and even metal annealing (making the metal stronger by fire), then they most certainly lost a LOT of glass in the beginning. I think the early dabblers of glass making were more concerned in finding the right combination of materials than they were annealing. And for glass to survive over 2000 years, it follows that it probably was annealed... but that doesn't mean that the people creating it understood annealing or practiced it. A few thousand peices of glass over a few thousand years is not a very large sample to be able to tell how a lot of pre-history glass was made. Since any glass that broke or failed in creation was probably pitched out into a pit somewhere, where it broke back down into it's base elements.

Once it was determined the basic materials needed to make glass, then they probably spent the time to learn how to make things out of it, how to create different colors of glass and how to keep it from self destructing when the unknown stresses let lose.

But then nobody really knows what the first glass makers did. So much of the very early history was never written down or has been lost... or poorly interpretered on limited information. So nobody knows if it was by design or by luck until good records did start to be kept. If you make the same thing enough different ways, something is bound to be done correctly.

I don't disagree with you that proper annealing was known... I just disagree with you on when it was done as a concious part of the process. In my opinion, it was a long time after glass had already been created and used for what ever it was used for back in the beginning.

Mike

I think all the early glass makers knew was that the slower glass was cooled, the less fragile it was.

I don't think, but know for certain that slowly cooled non-annealed glass will survive. I know this because experimenting with various ways to retard cooling is a consistent experiment in our studio. I have a large collection of castings that have never been kiln annealed. Some is on display in the studio gallery. Molten glass was poured into a mold, covered with insulating materials, and left to cool. That's how glass artisans worked before they had kilns. Annealing makes better glass, but glass can be made without annealing.

The great thing about playing with casting glass is anything that didn't work can just be recyled into another pour. Bad thing about doing that is when you keep mixing colours, eventually it all becomes poop coloured.
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