Choosing the correct glass kiln for the form of the art that you wish to work in can be confusing.
Below are a couple of the main questions with the answers we give. Hopefully it will help to clear things a little you.
Q.1. Can I buy kiln for Casting and Fusing?
Yes, you can, any kiln with a glass compatible controller and a high enough top temperature, 900c, will fire both, but, Casting and Fusing are two very different process and a kiln that will do both usually will have a trade off somewhere along the line.
A kiln for Fusing and Shallow Slumping
In general, Fusing and Shallow Slumping tends to be done with glass that is "tile" like. A large surface area but relatively thin.
Best results for this is a kiln that provides the heat from the roof, so ensuring that all of the surface of the glass gets the same amount of heat work.
For example, a 300mm x 300mm x 6mm item to be fused wants the heat work to be done directly onto the 300mm x 300mm surface. Trying to heat the glass from the side, through the 6mm edge is not ideal.
This type of kiln tends to have a large floor area but not be very tall. The floor area can be virtually fully used and this type of kiln tend to have a large floor area but not be very tall, which maximises the size of panel etc that can be fitted in there.
Casting can be done in this kiln, but mainly open casting with a limit of probably 50mm in glass thickness depending on the make and model of the kiln.
A kiln for Casting.
Just as a fusing kiln maximises its efficiency by heating the glass onto the largest surface, a casting kiln can be thought of in a similar way.
The art of casting may require a mould and maybe a resevoir mould on top to hold the pre-cast glass. This may mean that this creates a "block" say, for instance, 300mm tall x 200mm per side.
So, it will be much more even to heat the "block" using the 4 x 300mm x 200mm sides rather than just from the 200mm x 200mm surface of the top. This is where heat from the sides comes into play.
Fusing can be done in this type of kiln, but, there are two disadvantages.
Firstly, this type of kiln almost always tends to be taller than wide and so, in terms of flat glass, the floor area may be quite small compared to the power / size of the kiln.
Secondly, that space may be restricted further as you may not be able to use the full width of the kiln as, if you go too close to the heated sides, you may get "hot" edges on your glass which is caused by the side elements.
Q2. What are the main things that will help me decide the kiln I purchase?
There are many things to consider when choosing your glass kiln but, generally, there are 4 defining questions that will guide you.
How much studio space do I have for my kiln.
Simple this one really. Will a 1m square kiln, for instance, fit into the space that you have available for a kiln. If space is an issue this will limit the size of kiln you can go for.
How much electricity have I got available?
Do I have three phase? If so the the maximim size of kiln is not so much of an issue within reason for the average studio.
If I only have single phase, what is the maximum spare power that I have. In general, 7 kw is rarely a problem, 10kw will fit in most places. Any bigger starts to get hit and miss.
To be sure of how much power you have available it is worth getting in a qualified electrician who can take a look at your system and will take other appliances such as cookers and showers into consideration before telling you what is the maximum he feels that you can take. If he says 7kw is the maximum then that has put a ceiling on how big your kiln can be.
Again, simple. If you only have £3000 in your kiln kitty then that is as far as you can go.
Things to consider when pricing up your kiln. Does the price quoted include V.A.T? How much will it cost for delivery? Will you need an electrician to do extra wiring for the kiln? Will you need kiln furniture?
Budget is a major contributor to the size of kiln that people chose.
What size do I NEED?
This one kind of waves away the other questions to a degree. Do you need to fire a certain size of art? For instance, are you going into splashbacks? Have you won a commission for certain sized work?
If so, then you will need to get a kiln that will cope with that, which, in turn will mean you need to acquire the budget and the studio with the big enough electricity for your project.
Generally numbers 1 to 3 are the questions that are all important with number 4 being a little less used.