Thursday, December 30, 2010

Firing Up the Kiln for the First Time

Finally. I've had this new toy since August and have just had no time to create any silver pieces. But with the new year I've had fewer obligations and more time.

With my stash of clay ready to go and pages of sketched designs I began with a few simple things. I stamped a couple pair of earrings and a simple pendant. These are similar to designs that have sold well in the past and a good way to get my "fingers wet".

I moved on to a couple of layered pendants. I like the contrast of combining dark oxidized areas with sleek, shiny silver. And I'm trying to do more in the Art Deco style--simple geometric designs. After molding about 100 grams of silver and was ready to bake it.

I have to say firing up my first batch was a process. I won't go into all the details but my husband couldn't get far enough away from me that afternoon. I've never owned a kiln so I had no idea what all the codes in the digital program were for. The instructions sent were all about firing potter's clay complete with "cones" to test the temperature. They also sent me a pyrometer. Why? I have no idea since I purchased a digital kiln that already reads the inside temperature. I spent a couple of hours just trying to find out how to program it for a simple 30 minute firing. The kiln is in the garage and since the manual I got was no help at all, I ran up and down the stairs, to and from the computer, looking for information...anywhere.

Thank you YouTube!!
What did we do before people started posting instructional videos? While the first video I found was for the Paragon SC2 and none of the codes matched what was on my kiln, I later found one specifically for the Firefly. I took a few notes and ran down to give it a try.

Although my practical husband thought I should just put a couple pieces in to try it out, I laid out my whole first batch. Some instructions said to fire at 1200 degrees, others at 1300 degrees. So I split the difference and fired at 1250 degrees. Presto! Pure silver!! I'm so excited.

So here are some of the pieces after firing and polishing. Some have been oxidized and others I'm leaving shiny. There are a few pieces that still need to be partially oxidized. It's a tricky process that requires the liver of sulfur to be put on with a small sponge or paintbrush.

But I have learned how to get those nice rainbow colors on silver. I love how this ring turned out.

Now that I've gotten the basics out of the way, I'm working on an Art Deco style bracelet with hinged components. I've never done hinges and can't find a video to show me how so I'm learning as I go. But here's what I've done so far.

The next challenge I'm going to take on is soldering. I'd like to solder the rings I use to attach my components together. But I'm not worried. I'm sure there's a video somewhere.


  1. I love that you have such an adventurist spirit and you don't let complexity get you bogged down. If it was me, once I saw the instructions I would have been OUT!! LOL I love the pieces you've done so far...especially the ring! Can't wait to see what else you come up with...and the finished bracelet! :-)

  2. I love them all! I can't wait until my own chicklets arrive. :)

  3. Thanks Poetess. I'll be sure to put up pictures of the next batch.
    Bubbles, I'm anxious for your chicklets too. I'm all out of clay myself.

  4. I enjoy your blog so much that I just gave you the Stylish Blogger Award! :-)