Glass is entrancing and enticing… The lure of the beauty of glass, with its amazing colours, depth and sparkle.
In the Spring of 2012, I was in a bit of a rut with my glass making, after getting disheartened that many of my experiments over the past 2 years – trying to combine wire with glass – were not working out.
Sometimes the wire had reacted with the glass and it turned bright red with a fuzzy halo around it (not great!) or the wire hangers which were supposed to be outside the glass got submerged inside it. The wire was sandwiched in the middle of the assembled glass pieces, which meant it wasn’t very secure and often moved during its journey to Christine’s kiln (the organiser of the ceramic artist’s group), plus it had uneven kiln firing problems. Anyhow, this ALL resulted in a very low success rate.
If I was to continue with my glass fusing I decided I would have to get my own kiln.
Initially, I looked into getting a general multi-purpose digital kiln, one that could be used for everything, including ceramic painting and glass fusing, although the cost of the kilns new were around £800 (or more), nearly-new second-hand ones seemed to come up quite often on eBay for around £350-500.
This hobby kiln is for sale (June 2016) at www.hobbyceramicraft.co.uk
“I’m glad I waited and did some further research on the different types of digital kilns”
My kiln research included chatting with other glass artists I knew about their kilns and visiting a local lamp-work glass artist to see the 3 kilns she had. This was a great help, as one of her kilns was specifically for glass fusing and was flatter, than the deeper style multi-function kilns and I could see it would be a lot easier to load up and use. She also recommended the English kiln manufacturer Kilncare for their kilns and after-care service. Following this, I spoke to glass artist Julie Langan at Cedar Farm – whilst I was there teaching a bebeady jewellery making class – and she also spoke highly of the kilns by Kilncare that she used.
The problem was that the cheapest Kilncare kiln was well over £1,000 and my budget was to spend a maximum of £750 on a new kiln, or less if I could find a good second hand one on eBay…
I’d begun researching and watching the ‘digital glass kilns’ that came up on eBay and had decided that if I hadn’t found one by Christmas, I’d get myself a new kiln, the Skutt Firebox glass kiln which was priced around my budget.
Over the months that followed only a few glass kilns came up on eBay and most weren’t that much cheaper than buying a brand new one or were located at the other end of the Country.
I lost out on a Stutt kiln that I was bidding on, as it went at the last minute to the ‘buy it now’ price.
Better was to come later that year. I couldn’t believe it when my dream Kilncare kiln came up on eBay – it was the first time I’d seen one in my year of looking – during my lunch break in the cafe at Barton Grange Garden Centre whilst I was there stewarding an Art and Craft Guild of Lancashire exhibition. With my heart in my mouth, I pressed the ‘buy it now’ for way more than my kiln budget and spent the rest of the afternoon at the exhibition, wondering if I had done the right thing!
A week later, after arranging to pick up and pay for the kiln, I headed on a 2-hour drive down to Stoke for it. The lady selling her kiln was giving up glass fusing and it came with glass, cutters, some moulds and many other bits and pieces. It wouldn’t all fit in my small car, so I had another journey back down to Stoke the following week for the stand and the rest of the things.
Wow, I was over the moon, I’d finally got my dream kiln!
I was quite scared to use it at first… but it came with programmed settings and a logbook, so I put a few pieces in, started writing notes and my experimenting journey began.
Thanks for joining me on my creative journey, more to follow…
Sam Rowena, jewellery artist x