Microwave Kiln for Fused Glass Pendants
MagicFuse Kiln by Paragon
Mosaic Fused Glass Dish
Books From Amazon to Get You Started
The Microwave Kiln Makes the Difference
When I started doing fused glass, my first kiln cost me about $700 and it was far from the top of the line. It also required a dedicated space in the garage and had its own stand and power outlet. But oh! the fun of working with glass!
Within the last year or so there has been a rebirth of what is called the Microwave Kiln - and you can find them for around $100. I have actually seen them go on eBay for less than $50.
If you have always thought that you would like to make fused glass jewelry here is a way to jump into the pool on the cheap end.
As the name implies, a microwave kiln is a kiln that works in your microwave. Microwave kilns will work in almost any microwave oven, but many brands will tell you the specific requirements of their particul;ar kiln. So the first thing is to check and make sure your microwave is going to be compatible with the kiln you buy. The one thing almost all microwave kilns require is a microwave with a working rotating plate. I don't think there are any made that don't have this feature, but I guess an older unit could be missing the plate
Then you have to decide on the size - which of course translates to cost. Most manufacturers offer two popular size firing chambers - medium and small. Keep in mind that the whole kiln has to sit inside your microwave so make sure you get one that fits.
The kiln is actually a little ceramic enclosure that you put in your microwave. When you turn- on your microwave, the heat is concentrated in the ceramic enclosure. The temperature inside the kiln gets up over 1600-F degrees.
It isn't quite like that $700 kiln I started with so you have to learn the fusing characteristics of your kiln. A big kiln has a controller that allow you to set how hot you want the kiln to get. In a microwave kiln, it just gets hot! All it has is a top temperature.
You need to pay attention to what is happening and keep good notes. Your first pieces will look like crap so you want to have a good record of what you did when one comes out beautiful!
You are also going to need some materials. I like glass from Bullseye Glass but any manufacturer will do. I have seen pieces made with glass from beer bottles! Dichroic glass is the big thing now, the shimmer adds a touch of glass. You can also get colored stringers which are like glass spaghetti and frit which is like glass powder.
Make sure you get some Thinfire to put on the shelf of the kiln to keep the glass from sticking to the shelf when it melts.
Learning how to do fused glass in a microwave kiln is challenging but when you finally get the hang of it, you will be hooked. Next on your list is that $700 kiln, which incidentally is now closer to $1000.
Be careful, glass art is an addictive hobby. The next piece of equipment you will probably need will be a glass grinder. You can use the grinder to make custom shapes such as a heart or a circle, but most important, you will use the grinder to smooth ofgf rough edges after the piece comes out of the kiln.