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the paragon bluebird bead-annealing kilns smaller kilns at electrickilns.co.uk or tumblers at electrictumblers.co.uk
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Paragon BlueBird XL Bead Annealing Kiln
Cherry Heaven TV
Sentry Xpress Digital Programmer
Paragon BlueBird XL Bead-Annealing Kiln
Paragon BlueBird XL Bead-Annealing Kiln
Paragon BlueBird XL Bead-Annealing Kiln
Paragon BlueBird Bead-Annealing Kiln
Cherry Heaven TV
UK To EU Plug Adapter
Ceramic Block
Ceramic Cloth
EU Plug
UK-EU Adapter
Kitiki Cutters
Kitiki Flush Cutters
Kitiki Flat-Nose Pliers
Kitiki Pointed-Nose Pliers
Kitiki Bent-Nose Pliers
Kitiki Round-Nose Pliers
Potter & Brumfield Relay
Dorset, SW England
UK Plug
The AX-4 Digital Controller
MiniKiln Closed
Prometheus Pro-7
Bartlett V6-CF Digital Controller
Paragon BlueBird Open
Lauscha by Carrie Fertig
Activated Charcoal Granules
Paragon Caldera A Closed
Paragon Caldera AB Closed
Paragon Fusion CS14D Open
Paragon Fusion CS14SB Closed
Paragon Caldera XL Closed
Paragon FireFly A Closed
Paragon Fusion 7 Open
Paragon Fusion 8 Open
Paragon GL18ADTSD Open
Paragon HT-14D Closed
Paragon Janus 1613 Open
Paragon KM18D
Paragon-Orton Vent Master: Unassembled
Paragon-Orton Vent Master: Suction Cup
Paragon Pearl 18 Open
Paragon PMT21
Stainless Steel Pans
Paragon SC-2 Black Open
Paragon SC2 Open
Paragon SC2B Open
Paragon SC2W Open
Paragon SC4 Closed
Paragon SC1 Closed
Paragon SC1 Open
Paragon SC1W Closed
Paragon SC2BW Open
Paragon SC2D Pro-3 Open
Paragon SC2 Shelf Kit
Paragon SC-2 Jade Closed
Paragon SC-2 Black Closed
Orton Sentry Xpress Digital Programmer
Orton Sentry 2.0 Digital Programmer
Bartlett Sentinel Touch-Screen
Paragon SC-2 Pink Open
Paragon SC-2 Pro Black Open
Paragon SC-2 Turqoise Open
Paragon SC-2 Purple Open
Paragon SC-2 Navy Closed
Paragon SC-2 Berry Closed
Paragon ST-8 Table
Paragon TNF 1613 Closed
Paragon GL24 Table
Paragon Xpress 1613 Top Row Bricks
USB Plug
Paragon Xpress E-12A Open
Paragon Xpress E-12AB Closed
Paragon Xpress E-14 Closed
Paragon Xpress Q-11A Open
Paragon F500 Open
Paragon BlueBird Bead Annealing Kiln
Paragon BlueBird XL Bead Annealing Kiln
Paragon BlueBird XL Bead Annealing Kiln

Paragon BlueBird Kilns For Annealing Beads and Glass.

Paragon BlueBird kilns are generally used for annealing beads and glass, although they have other applications. They're twin bead-door kilns with digital programmers, in Paragon blue, or customised berry, black, jade, navy, pink, purple, or turquoise. Learn all about the Paragon BlueBird kilns on this page.

There are two versions: the 650°C BlueBird and the larger 815°C BlueBird XL. The Blue Bird XL has three door options: the regular one short door and one tall door, or two short doors, or two tall doors.


For prices, use the shop link below the menu bar near the top-right of any page. They're for UK-EU voltage, CE-marked, TUV tested, and CL and CSA approved kilns, and include comprehensive manuals and UK VAT. You can start work straight away.


Cherry Heaven TV has made an on-line photo book featuring these popular kilns: click the Cherry Heaven Player above. It starts with the BlueBird, and continues with the BlueBird XL and the Sentry Xpress 3-key programmer.

THE PARAGON BLUEBIRD SERIES: PHOTOS

Paragon Blue Bird Kilns For Annealing Beads and Glass.

To look at the pop-up photos, hold your mouse over the zoom buttons below: you don't need to click.


Paragon BlueBird Bead Annealing Kiln Paragon BlueBird Kiln.

Paragon BlueBird XL Bead Annealing Kiln Paragon BlueBird XL Kiln.

Paragon Blue Bird XL Bead Annealing Kiln Paragon Blue Bird XL Kiln.

Paragon-Orton Sentry Xpress Digital Controller Paragon Sentry Xpress Digital Programmer.

STAY ON THIS RESOURCE, OR SWITCH TO ANOTHER?

Paragon Kilns, Electric Kilns, Kitiki Kilns, or Prometheus Kilns? Or Mail Or Call Cherry Heaven.

For your convenience, I've separated all the kilns into two very general groups on two separate internet resources, although there's cross-over. If you want to switch resources, use the links above the menu bar near the top of the page.


Electric Kilns is generally for smaller plug-in table-top kilns usually used for small-scale work such as annealing beads, Art Clay metal clays, dichroics, enamels, glass fusing, jewellery, lampwork, PMC silver clay, porcelain, and vitrigraph.

Paragon Kilns is generally for larger wired-in floor-standing or table-top kilns usually used for business-scale work such as annealing, casting, ceramics, earthenware, glass panels, heat treating, making knives, porcelain, pottery, and raku.

THE PARAGON BLUEBIRD SERIES: A GENERAL INTRODUCTION
Paragon BlueBird Bead Annealing Kiln Paragon BlueBird XL Bead Annealing Kiln Paragon Blue Bird XL Bead Annealing Kiln Paragon Sentry Xpress Digital Programmer

Paragon BlueBird Kilns For Annealing Beads and Glass.

Paragon BlueBird kilns are rectangular, twin-door, front-opening, plug-in, table-top kilns, with ramp-hold Sentry Xpress 3-key digital programmers. Choose Paragon blue, or customised berry, black, jade, navy, pink, purple, or turquoise. Customised kilns are made to order, so can't be returned if the colour isn't exactly the same as in the photo.

There are two versions: the 650°C BlueBird and the larger 815°C BlueBird XL. The Blue Bird XL has three door options: the regular one short door and one tall door, or two short doors or two tall doors.

The bead doors allow you to anneal beads on rods, or mandrels. There's an 8mm gap at the bottom of the doors, so they can close flat rather than rest, partly propped open, on the mandrels. And it doesn't jog the mandrels when you close the doors with the risk that the beads will touch each other. The heat lost through the gap is minimal.

Every BlueBird is fired at the factory, before painting, to harden the liquid rigidiser on the ceramic fibre insulation. This may leave slight brown marks inside: completely normal.

They're ideal for your arts centre, bead shop, course venue, craft classes, glass works, home business, jewellery studio, or school. The BlueBird only weighs 22kg so is easy to take to craft fairs and demonstrations.


Use them for annealing: glass beads, chandelier parts, decorations, figurines, glass art, heat treating, jewellery, stained glass pieces, tableware, and tiles.

You can make architectural parts, beads, bracelets, brooches, candleholders, decorations, earrings, figurines, glass-art, jewellery, miniatures, model parts, necklaces, ornaments, pendants, rings, souvenirs, stained-glass designs, tableware, tiaras, and tiles, as unique hand-crafted pieces or repeatable stock for sale.


If you're not sure that a BlueBird is the right choice:

Bead-annealing kilns, such as the BlueBird, generally have a maximum temperature of 650°C. However, other kilns have bead doors. For these, start by looking at the front-opening SC Series and the Xpress Series.

Glass kilns generally have a maximum temperature of 925°C. For these, start by looking at the front-opening F Series and GL Series, or the top-opening Fusion:CS Series and Pearl Series.

Jewellery kilns generally have a maximum temperature of 1095°C. For these, start by looking at the small front-opening SC Series and the medium front-opening Xpress Series. The SC series are not hot enough for ceramics.

Ceramics kilns generally have a maximum temperature of 1290°C. For these, start by looking at the small top-opening Caldera Series, the medium front-opening Xpress Series, or the large Janus Series and PMT Series. These can also be used for glass work.

The HT Series and PMT Series look similar: except the HT has a bottom-hinged door and the PMT has a side-hinged door. HT kilns are normally 1095°C but can be upgraded to 1290°C.

The KM Series are 1290°C knife-making kilns, made for depth rather than width. You can choose a standard drop-down door or a side-hinged door.

If you're comparing the Caldera and the similar-looking FireFly, the Caldera-S and Caldera-A are 171mm high inside and can hold three shelves whilst the FireFly-S and FireFly-A are 114mm high inside and can hold two shelves. The Caldera is only slightly more expensive than the FireFly and it can accept collars.

To learn more about other kilns, use the appropriate links above and below the menu bar near the top of the page. Each series has kilns of different sizes with different options, so I've only included one of each in the table below:


VERSION DESCRIPTION MAX °C POWER W WEIGHT KG FIRING CHAMBER INTERIOR SIZE MM MANDREL HOLDERS
BlueBird two bead doors 650 1500 22 ceramic fibre 508 x 152 x 070 20
BlueBird XL two bead doors 815 1700 36 firebrick 508 x 229 x 114 20
Caldera-AB one bead door 1290 1800 20 firebrick 203 x 203 x 171 5
Fusion 14B two bead doors 925 1800 48 firebrick 356 x 356 x 165 10
SC-2B one bead door 1095 1680 16 ceramic fibre 199 x 204 x 145 5
SC-3B one bead door 1095 2000 18 ceramic fibre 199 x 204 x 195 5
Xpress-E12AB one bead door 1230 2700 38 firebrick 216 x 305 x 222 5

The Orton-Paragon Sentry Xpress digital programmers allow you to set up sequences, each one with heating, holding, or cooling segments: you can choose the heating rates, target temperatures, hold times, and cooling rates, save the sequences, and re-use them.

There are no restrictive pre-set programmes. Pre-sets might seem to be an advantage. However, having experimented and diversified, most people fire materials, or combinations of materials, at different temperatures and for different times than are recommended.


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. There's also an extensive support page: use the help link. Alternatively, we can repair the kiln in our workshop at Cherry Heaven.


After looking at each kiln in detail, I'll introduce the appropriate accessories, options, and upgrades.

THE PARAGON BLUEBIRD ANNEALING BEADS AND GLASS
Paragon BlueBird Bead Annealing Kiln Paragon Sentry Xpress Digital Programmer

The Paragon BlueBird Kiln For Bead Annealing.

The Paragon BlueBird is a 650°C, rectangular, front-opening, twin-door, plug-in, table top, ceramic fibre kiln, with a ramp-hold Sentry Xpress 3-key digital programmer. Choose Paragon blue, or customised berry, black, jade, navy, pink, purple, or turquoise.


The kiln is rated at 230-240V 1500W, so it can use a regular mains socket. To comply with EU safety regulations, the elements are embedded: an important safety feature. However, never get careless: kilns are very hot and connected to the mains.

The outer steel case measures 686mm x 387mm x 368mm high, and is slotted for air circulation: so it keeps cool. There are two separate outward-opening letter-box style doors, each 254mm x 70mm, giving a total door width of 508mm, with an adjustable, two-row, 20-place mandrel holder. The doors have closing-latches and stay-open magnets. There's an 8-place rod-warmer mounted on the top. The shipping weight is about 25kg.

The ceramic-fibre firing chamber measures 508mm x 152mm x 70mm high, and heats from the top, with the fast-firing element safely embedded in the fibre-board top.

The programmer's electronic display prompts for heating rates, target temperatures, and hold times, making it easy to set up and re-use accurate heating, holding, and cooling sequences.


The accessories, options, and upgrades for this kiln are in the on-line shop:

List a berry, black, jade, navy, pink, purple, or turquoise respray: normally blue
List a long-life mercury relay upgrade: factory fitted
List a long-life S-type platinum-rhodium thermocouple upgrade: factory fitted
List shelf kits and shelf paper
List ceramic fibre cloth
List ceramic block
List HEPA dust mask
List clear protective glasses
List glare-resistant glasses
List heat-resistant gloves

And finally, my opinion.

You can batch-anneal glass beads on mandrels, glass jewellery, glass figurines, and parts for larger glass panels. It's ideal for an enthusiast or a commercial bead business: it heats up quickly, it's fully programmable, and has 20 mandrel holders.

However, unlike the 815°C BlueBird XL, 650°C isn't hot enough for enamelling, fusing, dichroics, and silver clays. Unless you want a kiln specifically for annealing beads, look at the SC-2B: it only has five mandrel holders instead of twenty, but it's 445°C hotter so a lot more versatile.

THE PARAGON BLUEBIRD KILN FURNITURE

The Paragon BlueBird Kiln Furniture.

The Blue Bird was designed for annealing glass beads and isn't hot enough for most other materials and processes, so there's no included furniture kit. However, 650°C is hot enough to anneal glass figurines, ornaments, panels, and tiles, so you might want a shelf kit

There's a recommended kit, not included in the price: two durable 127mm x 127mm x 15mm cordierite shelves and eight 12mm shelf posts.

THE BLUEBIRD XL ANNEALING BEADS, ENAMELLING, FUSING, DICHROICS, AND HEAT TREATNG
Paragon BlueBird XL Bead Annealing Kiln Paragon BlueBird XL Bead Annealing Kiln Paragon Blue Bird XL Bead Annealing Kiln Paragon Sentry Xpress Digital Programmer

The Paragon BlueBird XL Kiln For Bead Annealing, Dichroics, Enamelling, Glass Fusing, And Heat Treating.

The Paragon BlueBird XL is an 815°C, rectangular, twin-door, front-opening, plug-in, table-top, ceramic fibreboard and firebrick kiln, with a ramp-hold Sentry Xpress 3-key digital programmer. Choose Paragon blue, or customised berry, black, jade, navy, pink, purple, or turquoise. It's the largest bead-annealing kiln that can use a regular mains socket.


The kiln is rated at 230-240V 1700W, so it can use a regular mains socket. To comply with EU safety regulations, the elements are embedded: an important safety feature. However, never get careless: kilns are very hot and connected to the mains.

The outer steel case measures 648mm x 483mm x 406mm high, and is slotted for air circulation: so it keeps cool. There are two separate outward-opening letter-box style doors, each 254mm x 114mm, giving a total door width of 508mm, with two 10-place mandrel holders. The doors have closing-latches and stay-open magnets. There's an 8-place rod-warmer mounted on the top. The shipping weight is about 39kg.

The regular BlueBird XL comes with a short door, 254mm x 102mm, and a double mandrel holder on the left, and a tall door, 254mm x 108mm, and a single mandrel holder on the right. Or you can have two short doors or two tall doors.

The firebrick firing chamber measures 508mm x 229mm x 114mm high, and heats from the top, with the fast-firing element safely embedded in the fibre-board top.

The programmer's electronic display prompts for heating rates, target temperatures, and hold times, making it easy to set up and re-use accurate heating, holding, and cooling sequences.


The accessories, options, and upgrades for this kiln are in the on-line shop:

List a berry, black, jade, navy, pink, purple, or turquoise respray: normally blue
List door options: normally one short door and one tall door, or two short doors or two tall doors
List a long-life mercury relay upgrade: factory fitted
List a long-life S-type platinum-rhodium thermocouple upgrade: factory fitted
List shelf kits and shelf paper
List ceramic fibre cloth
List ceramic block
List HEPA dust mask
List clear protective glasses
List glare-resistant glasses
List heat-resistant gloves

And finally, my opinion.

The BlueBird XL is 77mm deeper than the BlueBird so you can use longer mandrels and batch-anneal more beads in one go. It's the largest bead-annealing kiln that can use a regular mains socket.

It's also hotter than the BlueBird so, apart from annealing beads, you can fuse glass and dichroics, work with enamels, and sinter silver clays.

It has 2.87 times the internal floor space of the Paragon SC-2B, with twenty mandrel spaces as opposed to five. However, the SC2B heats to 1095°C whereas the XL heats to 815°C.

THE PARAGON BLUEBIRD XL KILN FURNITURE

The Paragon BlueBird XL Kiln Furniture.

The Blue Bird XL was designed for annealing glass beads, so there's no included furniture kit. However, 815°C is hot enough to anneal glass figurines, ornaments, panels, and tiles, fuse glass, and work with enamels, so you might want a shelf kit.

There's a recommended kit, not included in the price: two durable 178mm x 178mm x 15mm cordierite shelves and eight 12mm shelf posts.

WHY BUY A PARAGON BLUEBIRD KILN?

The Paragon BlueBird Compared to Similar Kilns From Efco, Evenheat, Jen-Ken, And KilnCare.

I looked at the EFCO 110, 135, 150, and 180, the Evenheat Fishbone, Evenheat KingPin 88, Evenheat PMC Kiln, Evenheat Set-Pro, Evenheat E-360, and Evenheat Sierra, the Jen-Ken, the KilnCare EN1, EN2, EN3, Maxi and Maxine, the Skutt FireBox 8, the Cromartie CFL012, the Northern Kilns NK Mini and NK Midi, and others which have a low international profile.

I can't always compare like with like but, for broadly similar kilns, the BlueBirds are larger inside, or get hotter, or cost less. They have two bead doors and mandrel holders, and built-in, comprehensive, automatic, digital programmers.

I'd like to be able to recommend UK-made or EU-made kilns, but US-made Paragon kilns are such good value: buy Paragons and save enough to treat yourself to a luxury five-star weekend break.


The Efco 110, 135, 150, and 180 kilns don't have bead doors and mandrel holders. They, and the KilnCare BeadCube, Max, and Maxine, don't have rotary controls or digital programmers: unattended, they'll heat up and burn out.

Kilns that don't have built-in programmers are usually sold with a KilnCare KCR1 digital programmer, probably made by Stafford Instruments. It's a separate box with a separate mains cable, a separate thermocouple, and a separate stand: so more stuff on your worktop. This adds nearly £300 to what might appear to be the price of the kiln.

The BlueBirds have a 13A UK three-pin plug, so can use a regular 230V-240V UK mains socket. If you're not in the UK, use a plug adapter or cut off the UK plug and fit your own: it won't invalidate the guarantee. Or order it with your local plug.

To comply with EU safety regulations, the elements are embedded in a solid ceramic fibre roof: an important safety feature.

Although it's US-made, the programmer shows degrees Celsius, not degrees Fahrenheit as in the US. If you need to convert, this is how to do it. However, if you want to work in Fahrenheit, you can make a simple change to the programmer.

The heavy-gauge nickel-plated copper wiring has high-temperature glass-braided insulation. The thermocouple, which senses temperature inside the kiln, is a long-life nickel-chrome.

Paragon kilns conform to the demanding UL 499 standard in the US, and are CE Marked for the EU. Paragon is Greek for Model Of Perfection.

RECOMMENDED READING
General Help and FAQ's For Kilns

Kilns, Programmers, Kiln Furniture, Options, Upgrades, Firing, Kiln Logs, Accessories, Materials, Processes, And Tools.

The remaining sections are about digital programmers, options, upgrades, materials, and processes. Unless you're already successfully using a kiln, they're recommended reading.


Cherry Heaven has been a Paragon distributor since 2002, and commended every year for outstanding performance. Paragon kilns are good value: buy Paragons and you could save enough to treat yourself to a luxury five-star weekend break.

Anyone can buy a few kilns to resell and call themselves a specialist, but a distributor understands all the kilns, options, and upgrades, will stock spares, offer free competent technical support, can help you repair your kiln, provide on-line repair videos, has a repair workshop, and can access Paragon's international, informed, and supportive user-base.

If you need help, you can mail an experienced technician or call . Alternatively, to learn more about how your kiln works, use the help link below the menu bar near the top of the page.

THE PARAGON SENTRY XPRESS 3-KEY DIGITAL PROGRAMMER
Paragon Sentry Xpress Digital Programmer

The Paragon-Orton Sentry Xpress Digital Controller.

The Paragon Sentry Xpress 3-key digital programmer allows you to set up four firing sequences, each one with up to eight heating, holding, or cooling segments. You can choose the heating and cooling rates, target temperatures, and hold times, save the sequences, and re-use them.

It's easy to use: far easier than a central heating programmer. Here's a Cherry Heaven TV programme about setting a simple ramp-hold sequence. The ramp is the part where the temperature increases until it reaches the target temperature: the hold is the part where the temperature stays the same. UK-EU programmers will be in degrees Celsius.


Cherry Heaven TV provides on-line radio and television programmes on the Cherry Heaven TV Player. To use the player, click the controls or drag the time-line slider or volume slider to a new position.


00:00  00:00
FIRING CHARACTERISTICS

How Electric Kilns Work.

Generally, as soon as a programmable kiln starts its firing sequence, it begins to heat up at a rate set by the programmer. It can't heat up quicker than it would do with the elements full on.

The thermocouple tells the programmer the current internal temperature and, depending on the sequence you've chosen, the programmer turns the elements on or off to control the sequence segments: the heating rate, the target temperature, the hold time, and the cooling rate. It can't cool down quicker than it would do with the kiln turned off. When the sequence is complete, the kiln beeps, and the sequence stops.


For safety, the programmer doesn't switch the full mains voltage. Instead it drives a relay, an electro-mechanical switch. The programmer uses a low voltage to activate the switch which turns the high voltage elements on or off.


When the target temperature is reached, the programmer switches the elements off. However, residual heat in the firing chamber allows the internal temperature to overshoot the target temperature briefly before starting to fall back.

This overshoot is more evident at low temperatures than at high temperatures, and in small kilns rather than large kilns. For example: 300°C will probably overshoot to 330°C whereas 800°C will probably only overshoot to 805°C before starting to fall back.

During the hold-time, with the elements still off, the temperature starts to fall. When the programmer switches the elements back on, the firing chamber will initially absorb some of the new heat before the temperature recovers. The continual switching of the elements on and off causes the internal temperature to oscillate either side of the target temperature.

This is similar to central heating. If you set it for 21°C, it probably oscillates, quite slowly, around 20°C to 22°C: and you won't notice. The accuracy will depend on where the thermostat is sited, how quickly it responds, how accurate it is, how long it takes for the radiators to heat up, and if you have doors and windows open. The temperature will probably be slightly different in each room.

So, regardless of the thermocouple temperature, the actual temperature of your work will be slightly different, depending on its position on the kiln shelf, the vertical spacing of any stacked shelves, and its nearness to the elements, a lid, a door, a bead door, or a window. Learn to take it into account if you're working with temperature-critical materials or processes.


Remember that glass needs radiant heat and will fuse, sag, or slump better on one shelf at the bottom than between closely stacked shelves.


Kiln doors and lids are not meant to be a perfect fit otherwise, at high temperatures, there'd be no room for expansion and movement, and the door could stick and the ceramic-fibre or firebricks could crack.

All kilns smell a bit, and even produce whisps of smoke, during the first firings, just like a toaster or a fan heater. If you're worried about fumes, open a window.

Eventually, with normal use, kilns discolour slightly, inside and outside, and some firebricks might develop hairline cracks. Your kiln is a versatile, robust, red-hot tool: not an ornament.

KEEPING A KILN LOG

Keeping A Kiln Log.

Using your kiln successfully needs critical research and frequent tests, especially as things that work for your friends and teachers might not work in the same way for you. It's also very important to learn how to creatively use unexpected effects. So, keep a firing log:


Buy a durable notebook. Use a new page for every firing, and draw diagrams of the shelves, their vertical spacing, and the position of your work on the shelves. Along with your work, put a few scraps at different places on the shelves to learn how things change. Describe the material, the shape of your work, the firing cycle, and the end result. Add a few photos and sketches, and mark the page corners with coloured dots or symbols as a quick reminder of your success rating.

A kiln log is vital if you're experimenting with temperature-sensitive materials or working with coloured dichroic glasses, enamels, glazes, or china paints, and a skilled artist will use the kiln log to advantage to re-create effects. It'll be particularly useful if you have to repeat a commission, or you have a long holiday before returning to your studio.


Some Paragon kilns have a Sentry 12-key or a Sentinel Touch Screen programmer which can be connected to your computer through a factory-fitted USB interface. The Control Master software allows you to control and monitor the firing, and analyse, arrange, print out, and save the data. If you want this feature, make sure you order the USB interface in the on-line shop.

A BRIEF INTRODUCTION TO GLASS
Obsidian

What Is Glass?

The main component of glass is silicon dioxide, often called silica: found naturally and plentifully as sand. When it melts, at around 1700°C, it's like syrup on a cold day. When it cools, it forms a rigid brittle glass called quartz glass.

To lower the melting point, and reduce the cost of melting, chemicals are added: typically sodium carbonate and calcium oxide. Other chemicals, and different heating and cooling processes, produce a range of colours and mechanical properties.

Chemically, glass is defined as an amorphous solid but, as it's heated, it becomes softer allowing it to be blown, cast, coated, decorated, engraved, heat-treated. moulded, poured, pressed, sagged, and slumped.

A form of glass occurs naturally within the mouth of a volcano when the intense heat of an eruption melts sand to form Obsidian, a hard black-to-brown glassy type of stone, shown in the photo. Although it was used decoratively, when it fractures it has very sharp edges, many times sharper than a steel knife-edge, so was also used for tools and weapons, and the pitiful ritual of circumcision.

ANNEALING
Annealed Beads Made Into A Necklace

Annealing.

During annealing, fabrication stresses are relieved as the molecules cool and arrange themselves into a regular stable matrix. Successful annealing is the key to creating glasswork that will remain attractive and durable. It's quite a long process, so a kiln with an automatic comprehensive programmer is essential.

DICHROIC GLASS
Dichroic Glass

Dichroic Glass.

Dichroic glass has two different colours: a transmitted colour and a reflective colour, both of which change depending on the angle of view. For example blue-red will be blue in transmission and red in reflection.

During manufacture, quartz and metal oxides are vapourised onto the surface of the glass using a vacuum deposition process, forming a multi-layer crystal structure.

FIRE POLISHING
Fire Polished Glass

Fire Polishing.

To fire polish glass, return the items to the kiln and melt them just enough to give a smooth polished appearance. It needs a temperature of around 700°C, and is typically used to round the edges of glass between fusing and slumping.

Fire polishing already-slumped items is more difficult because the polishing temperature is close to the slumping temperature and it can distort the appearance of the piece. So it generally works best for flat items, rather than slumped ones. It has the slight limitation that the part of the item that touches the kiln shelf won't polish.

FUSING, SAGGING, AND SLUMPING
Fused Glass

Glass Fusing.

If two or more pieces of glass in contact are heated, they begin to soften and fuse together. With careful heating and cooling, the separate pieces of glass become one.

If glass is put on a mould and heated, it begins to soften and collapse, or sag, onto the mould: a common technique for making bowls and plates.

Sagging and slumping are often thought of as being the same. Correctly: during sagging, heated glass, supported at its edges, sags down in the middle to conform to a mould; during slumping, heated glass, supported at its middle, slumps down at its edges to conform to a mould.

SLUMPING BOTTLES
Slumped Bottle

Glass Slumping.

This a simple technique but it requires good ideas. A bottle, such as those used for wine, beer, cola, or champagne, is softened in a kiln so that it begins to flatten out or conforms to a mould. There are too many moulds to stock here but there are lots available on line. Or make your own from clay.

The bottles nead to be clean and dry, with all paper labels and tops removed. Put them in your kiln on a shelf, either with shelf paper or kiln wash to prevent the glass sticking to the shelf. Paragon make a kiln designed for this: the Trio. It's wide enough for most bottles but can still use a regular socket.

LAMPWORK AND BEADS
Beads

Lampwork And Beads.

Very briefly, lamp-working is the traditional name for glasswork that uses a flame to melt glass rods and tubes. As the glass softens, it's shaped by turning and using tools.

Early lampworkers used an oil-lamp, and blew air into the flame through a pipe. Later, propane, natural gas, or butane torches replaced the lamp, although kilns are now increasingly popular, particularly for annealing.

Beads are usually made on steel rods, or mandrels. When the beads are finished, the rods are removed leaving holes for threading the beads. Cold working techniques can be used, such as etching, faceting, polishing, and sandblasting.

PÂTE DE VERRE
Pâte De Verre

Pâte De Verre.

Pâte de verre involves making a glass paste, applying it to a mould, firing it, and removing the piece from the mould. The glass paste is usually made from glass powder, a binder such as gum arabic, distilled water, and colouring agents or enamels. It allows precise placing of colours in the mould, whereas other techniques often result in the glass straying from its intended position.

I think, currently, Daum is the only large commercial crystal manufacturer using the pâte de verre process for art glass and crystal sculptures.

TACK FUSING
Tack Fused Glass

Tack Fusing.

Tack fusing is the joining together of glass, with as little change to the shape of the pieces as possible. Tack fusing may be used either decoratively, or to assemble a large piece of glass from laminations.

Where tack fusing is used to apply small decorative details to a larger piece, you might want to partially melt the small pieces so that they change shape, usually becoming more spherical under the influence of surface tension, but without changing the shape of the carrier piece. This can be done by using an increased temperature, but only briefly. The carrier piece has a larger thermal mass, so heats up more slowly than the small decorations.

VITRIGRAPH WORK
Glass Stringers

Vitrigraph.

Vitrigraph uses a Caldera-A kiln to make glass stringers. The bottom of the kiln is unclipped and set aside. The kiln body is put on a thick ceramic square with a central hole. The whole thing is lifted well away from the floor to allow moulten glass to fall through a small hole in a crucible and form long stringers. Ceramic squares are in the on-line shop.

WARM GLASS

Warm Glass.

The term warm glass refers to fusing, slumping, and other glass processes which take place at temperatures between about 600°C to 925°C. Although that doesn't sound warm, it is when you compare it to glassblower's working temperatures, which often exceed 1100°C. The term warm glass is often replaced by kiln forming.

PARAGON KILNS

Paragon Kilns: A Cherry Heaven Internet Resource.

is a Cherry Heaven internet resource. Cherry Heaven is a UK-EU distributor for kilns, and has been one of Paragon's top-selling distributors consistently from 2006 to : a pleasing outcome since the UK is only one third the area of Texas and one fortieth the area of the US.

As this is an on-line resource, there isn't a paper catalogue or a price list. However, you can mail or call a technician about kilns, power supplies, public area safety, a special project, business ideas, diagnostics, repairs, or reselling opportunities.


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