Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fixin' the Kiln

I've been working on my kiln the past few weeks. It hasn't been working quite right for me since I bought it a year and a half ago. I think it's been running too hot. Metallic lusters keep evaporating off my beads after only an hour or two in the kiln. And since almost all of my beads have some metallic luster, I need to get this problem fixed!

It's a Glass Hive Regular Guy kiln, and Mike and Pam at Glass Hive have gone above and beyond in trying to help me solve this problem. One issue I had was my kiln element was hanging down out of the ceiling because a fire brick had broken. They sent me an element replacement kit, with an element and new fire bricks, and I actually changed it out myself!

happy kiln :)
Coffee + tools + girl power + instructions I didn't read right because I'm blonde + a cheer-up from my kiln = replacement element installed pretty much okay I think!
Though the element did need to be replaced, that didn't solve my reduction problems. The next thing Mike and Pam suggested was that I drill a new hole for my thermocouple, about an inch above where it was sitting now. That would put it closer to the elements and they said it would give a more accurate temperature reading. I did that last night (with my girl power tool wielding confidence) and ran another test of metallic glass beads.

With the thermocouple adjustment, the silver glass reduction stayed for an hour longer than it did before, but still - it vanished - and that's no good for me.

The next thing I'm going to do is lower my kiln temps down even further, plus shorten my annealing time which was set too long for my tiny beads anyway, and I'm going to test metallic glass again tonight. I also might buy a stand-alone pyrometer so I can get an independent temperature reading. I've tried the activated charcoal trick, which had no effect on my beads (probably because my kiln was simply too hot), but I might try that again too.

I have a couple of customers waiting to see if I can do metallic bead special orders for them. They've been really patient since I have no date yet when my kiln will start behaving! Who knows, maybe tonight will be the night, when I find that perfect temperature and annealing time that works for my silver glass beads!

Have a great weekend! :)