Over the years, I've answered lots of questions. Many are from beginners, so here's a selection of FAQs. If you have a question, there's a form at the bottom of this page.
|WHICH KILN IS BEST FOR A BEGINNER?
Which Kiln Is Best For A Beginner?
The Paragon SC-2 kiln is the most popular. It plugs in to a regular mains socket, doesn't take up much worktop space, and, at about 16kg, is light enough to be put away. Its maximum temperature, 1095°C, allows you to work with most materials, except ceramics and porcelain, although you can use what are called low-fire ceramics.
|IS THE DIGITAL PROGRAMMER COMPLICATED
Is The Programmer Easy To Use?
It's a lot simpler than a central heating programmner. The Sentry Xpress 3-key digital programmer has three buttons: the left-hand button selects the function and the other two increase or decrease the value of the chosen function. It will remember four sequences, so you can re-use any one without having to re-set all the functions.
Kilns come with comprehensive instructions, basic firing guides, and there are on-line videos. Call, if you're not sure?
We all seem to pay different amounts for electricity. A half-hour firing costs about £0.14 and a two-hour firing about £0.34. Remember that, during a long hold time, the elements are continually switching on and off, so don't use full power all the time. If you fire lots of silver clay pieces on two shelves at one go, each piece costs just a few pennies.
|DOES IT GET TOO HOT TO TOUCH?
Does It Get Hot?
It just gets warm, although the edges of the door will get a bit hotter. Don't leave anything on the top of the kiln and don't stand it next to fabric or plastic. The SC2 has rubber feet so, if it got too hot, they'd melt.
If you use it in a garage, check that you haven't got petrol fumes or a lawnmower. Also, condensation might affect the electronic programmer.
|DOES IT NEED VENTILATION?
Does It Need Ventilation?
Most popular materials don't give off toxic fumes. Howewever, cork clay, wood clay, and some glasses might: so open a window. Don't use the kiln in a small cupboard.
Does It Need Cleaning?
Don't let it get really mucky. When it's cold use a damp cloth, not a kitchen cleaner spray. Clean the inside with a soft brush: wear a HEPA dust mask. Or use the cup-brush on a vacuum cleaner, but be careful not to knock and chip the interior ceramic.
Is It Noisy?
When a kiln reaches its target temperature, the relay, an electro-mechanical switch, will turn the elements on and off to hold the temperature so you'll hear the relay clicking.
The Door Catch.
In the US, all the SC series kilns have a door ball-catch and a plastic door-knob. However, the catch is often too loose or too tight, particularly when the kiln gets hot and the metal expands. It's easy to disturb your work whilst pushing the door catch closed or pulling it open, as you often need a free hand to hold the hot kiln steady. Although it can be adjusted, it's not ideal, so all the SC series kilns sold by Cherry Heaven have an improved lever catch. The lever has a much easier cleaner action, and is simple to adjust.
Repairs And Parts.
For help, or in the unlikely event of a fault, you can mail or call an engineer in the UK. However, home checks, adjustments, and repairs are quick and easy, needing little more than a PosiDriv screwdriver, and you can watch on-line videos. Alternatively, we can repair the kiln in our workshop at Cherry Heaven.
As a distributor, we normally have parts.
A Bead Door Or A Window?
Most people want a kiln for the material or process that's enthused them, such as annealing beads, casting, firing ceramics, crucible work, enamelling, fusing glass, heat treating, knife making, lampwork, pottery, vitrigraph, or silver clays.
After a few successes, and a few failures, many experiment with other materials, make larger pieces, try combinations, fire more at a time, and become interested in everything else. Some start a business, run classes, or open a shop. So plan ahead.
Although you can open the door a crack to check on glass fusing or enamels, a glass viewing-window is easier although you should wear glare-resistant glasses. Some people use the bead-anealing door to look through.
How Many Shelves?
Always use the supplied shelf in the bottom of the kiln in case you melt or spill anything. The SC2 will hold three stacking shelf kits, so it's a good idea to buy one or two extra.
You can fit quite a few pieces on one shelf. You can buy more shelf kits so you can stack up shelves with spacers in between which allows the air to circulate and help keep an even temperature. Glass work prefers radiant heat so it's better not to stack up shelves.
Most materials come with firing instructions, although nothing beats experiment. Silver will melt at 962°C but will begin to distort at about 910°C.
Some gemstones can be fired in PMC Silver, Art Clay Silver, and other metal clays. If you're firing stones into your piece, you will need a lower temperature and slow ramp-up. There's no short cut to experimenting.