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Microwave kiln newbie


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Hello!

I´ve been making ceramic pieces for the last 6 months and putting a lot of focus on trying to make ceramic jewelry. I have had good results but it is too much of a hazzle to pay for workshop time and burning space and keep track of my tiny pieces in a studio where more than 40 people make pieces. This is why I´m interested in Microwave Kilns.

I would really appreciate any advice on brands, things that do and don´t work on microwave kilns and what kind of materials I need to work with it :) 

Also any kind of ecological note on wether it is better or worse or the same as firing in a big electric kiln is welcome.

Thank you so much in advance!

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Hi Dominique, welcome to the forum!

HERE is some good information on microwave kilns. They're not suited for ceramics, and even if they could get hot enough, I can't imagine you'd get good results from glazes by firing and cooling that fast. You'd be better off getting a small test kiln for your jewelry. The Olympic Doll-E is a good low priced kiln that'll go to cone 10 on 120 volts. However as with most ceramic test kilns, you'll need a 20 amp circuit. I have no idea what standard electrical service is like where you are, so pay attention to the specific electrical requirements when buying a kiln. A digital controller is a must IMO with small kilns, because you'll need to slow down the cooling in order to mimic the results you'd get from a bigger kiln.

I'd also keep a lookout for used test kilns. If you're firing to cone 6, you'll want a kiln that'll go to at least cone 8 preferably cone 10, so you get good element life. For jewelry, firing to cone 6 is a good idea because you can get clay bodies that fully vitrify, so they're less likely to absorb oils from the skin if you have non-glazed areas. If you don't have access to cone 6 clay bodies and are working at low fire temps, then there are more options out there for kilns. That said, most little jewelry kilns are made for glass and/or metal, not ceramics, and can just barely get to low fire temps. You really want a kiln that can get well beyond the temps you're firing to or you have to change the elements much more often.

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2 hours ago, Mark C. said:

What temps are your firing to?

I have only been using high temp but think that it would be best to do low temp for this (because i would like to get more vibrant colors and have been told the fragility of the pieces would probably be the same)... honestly Im still very green and don't fully understand the cones so Im not sure which ones exactly I would be firing to.

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1 hour ago, Dominique said:

I have only been using high temp but think that it would be best to do low temp for this (because i would like to get more vibrant colors and have been told the fragility of the pieces would probably be the same)... honestly Im still very green and don't fully understand the cones so Im not sure which ones exactly I would be firing to.

Cones measure heat work, which is a function of temperature and time. It's similar to how you can cook a pork roast for a long time at a lower temperature, or a shorter time at a higher temperature. Either way the roast gets cooked. In kilns it's more about the speed at which you fire, but the idea is the same. We use cones to measure heat work rather than actual temperature because the temperature we need to fire to will be different depending on how fast the kiln is climbing during the last 200F degrees. Cones mimic what is happening to the clay and glazes. The most common firing temps are low fire (cone 06-04), mid range (cone 5-6), and high fire (cone 9-10).

Cone 6 is a good compromise between the durability of high fire (cone 10) and the brighter colors of low fire (cone 04). Just make sure you get a clay body that fully matures at cone 6. Do not use a body that is listed as working from cone 6-10, because it will be under-fired at cone 6.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 7/12/2021 at 9:18 PM, neilestrick said:

Cones measure heat work, which is a function of temperature and time. It's similar to how you can cook a pork roast for a long time at a lower temperature, or a shorter time at a higher temperature. Either way the roast gets cooked. In kilns it's more about the speed at which you fire, but the idea is the same. We use cones to measure heat work rather than actual temperature because the temperature we need to fire to will be different depending on how fast the kiln is climbing during the last 200F degrees. Cones mimic what is happening to the clay and glazes. The most common firing temps are low fire (cone 06-04), mid range (cone 5-6), and high fire (cone 9-10).

Cone 6 is a good compromise between the durability of high fire (cone 10) and the brighter colors of low fire (cone 04). Just make sure you get a clay body that fully matures at cone 6. Do not use a body that is listed as working from cone 6-10, because it will be under-fired at cone 6.

thank you! this is very useful!

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