Saturday, August 13, 2011

The basement just got a lot hotter.

Meet my new friend: the Paragon SC-3 kiln.

Ever since I started working with PMC a couple years ago, I've tossed around the idea of owning my own kiln. Previously, I would have to form my pieces, prep them for firing and then drop them off at a local bead store and pay to have them fired. After running into some, let's call them scheduling issues with firings, I swore them off and pretty much stopped working with PMC. (Heck, I pretty much stopped shopping there. Anyway...)

Back in June I received an email from a nice lady over at Metal Clay Supply who informed me that they had received a few factory reconditioned SC-2 kilns at a discounted price and that it was first come, first served to buy them. Well, I responded quickly, but didn't get one, but I was kept on the list in case they received any others. I didn't give it much more thought until I got another email saying they got a few SC-3 kilns instead for just a bit more. Well, I jumped on that offer! It is likely more kiln than I need, but then it gives me room to expand into other areas if I want to get into fusing glass or things like that later.

I won't lie, I was a bit scared to use it at first. I mean, these things get into 1000's of degrees. Well I read the manual and did some online research for the best way to safely set-up and operate it. I ended up buying a couple 18 inch square ceramic tiles to set it on, on top of a sturdy cabinet in our basement. I had to do some much needed tidying up too, while I was at it, so there was a clear safety area of non-combustibles around it. (See, using words like combustibles makes me nervous!) We had been experiencing some severe storms all week too, and I didn't want to start a batch and then lose power. Naturally when I turned on the kiln, the lightning started. But it made it through, thankfully!

Programming it was a breeze, basically like using an oven. You set the speed, temperature and hold time. Easy! Somehow I got the idea that it would take hours to fire a batch of silver PMC. This is incorrect. In fact, my PMC3 took a mere 25 minutes of the kiln being used - from start up to completion of firing. I did leave it in idle overnight to cool. I didn't even open it until the morning, but the temperature continued to decline the rest of the evening.

Here was the first batch when I opened up the kiln. As you can see, I have plenty of room in there.

I love how pearlescent the pieces look when they come out of the kiln.

Some polishing and burnishing (my next purchase might just be a tumbler/polisher!)

And a little patina added to most of the pieces.

This is the first piece I've listed in my etsy shop. It's called Tapestry and you can find it here. I'm thrilled with the results and I'm sure this is just the first of many new PMC creations to come.

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