Why buy a pottery kiln?
If you’re an aspiring or active potter or jeweler and need that one piece of equipment that finalizes your art, you need a kiln. It’s time and money-saving, keeping you at home instead of spending a lot on classes. It also gives you more flexibility and opportunities to work and refine your pottery-making skills at your own convenience.
What should you look for in a pottery kiln?
- Design: Microwave kilns are small, typically made of ceramic fiber, and work magically for firing glass jewelry and other glass decorations. Some work for firing clay as well. Microwave kilns are also inexpensive and beginner-friendly. Electric kilns produce greater heat, reaching max heat faster than a microwave can. Some are designed for creating copper enamel jewelry, precious metal clay-made art, and other metal-based designs.
- Size: Most home pottery kilns, even the larger models, are around the size of a standalone clothes washer. There are also smaller options that you can put in a bag for transport.
- Skill Level: If you’re passionate about starting your pottery-making journey, find a kiln with the capabilities that meet your skill level. Maybe you’ve experienced the sense of urgency to get the very best product for your new hobby, only to find yourself overwhelmed and disenchanted. If you have experience, you likely know what you’re looking for in a kiln. The terminology is familiar, and you have the proper setup at home.
How much should you expect to spend on a quality pottery kiln?
The prices vary considerably based on design, capability, and technology. A beginner microwave kiln, for example, runs between $40 and $100. Moving from simple glass fusing to metal molding, which requires higher temperatures and temperature control, you can expect to spend between $300 and $700.
Hensom Large Microwave Kiln for Glass Fusing
A compact super-insulted microwave kiln for glass fusing that keeps the heat safely inside.
Pros: Microwave kilns work fantastically for glass fusing, especially glass jewelry and some small fine clay work. While small, make sure this kiln will fit into your microwave. It measures 3.74 x 4.3 inches, which should fit most microwaves. The interior measures 5.3 x 1.77 inches, and the whole kiln weighs 3.3 pounds. The material is ceramic fiber, thermal insulation derived from small-dimension threads or filaments of materials like alumina or silica. The inner temperature heats up to 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit with ceramic fiber insulation, while the kiln’s surface reaches only 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cons: The interior appears more prominent in the photos. You may want to measure a similarly shaped object on hand to understand the limitations of 5.3 x 1.77 inches.
Bottom Line: The Henson microwave kiln may be suitable if glass jewelry-making is your thing. Again, you may successfully fire small, fine clay pieces, but the kiln is marketed for glass fusing.
Fuseworks Beginner's Microwave Kiln
A nice option for beginner jewelers--- just pop it in the microwave.
Pros: It’s a small, compact microwave kiln ideal for melding glass pieces to make jewelry. The 2 x 3/4-inch internal fusing platform allows enough space for several glass pieces at once. The kiln works best with a metal-lined microwave with 800 to 1200 watts and is lined with a high-tech composite material. This tidy little kiln has the basics covered so you can make jewelry pendants in as little as three minutes.
Cons: The primary material used in the kiln’s construction is undisclosed.
Bottom Line: This microwave kiln by Fuseworks seems like a promising opportunity for beginner jewelers. Who knows, experienced artists may find the kiln fun for experimenting too.
Fuseworks Craft Kiln
A clam-shaped self-regulated coil heated kiln that's perfect for glass jewelry and ceramics.
Pros: If you’re clever, maybe you could come up with a clam-shaped glass pendant or glass coaster. The 8.5-inch diameter x 3.5-inch deep firing chamber provides space for slumping ceramic and glass molds. Perhaps that’s why the Fuseworks craft kiln is quintessential among its competitors. Its design encourages creativity. Make ceramic bisques, copper enamel jewelry, ceramic glazed plates, and more. The kiln runs on a self-regulated coil heating system and plugs into standard outlets.
Cons: You’ll need to purchase molds that allow you to bend, slump, or drape glass and ceramics to add texture.
Bottom Line: If you’re a glass jeweler looking to expand into ceramic and metal enamel, this kiln can help develop your skills. It’s great for beginners, intermediates, and artists too.
Tabletop Furnace Company RapidFire Pro-LP Electric Kiln
A PID programmable, super-fast high-temperature heating kiln designed for advanced artisans.
Pros: This formidable-looking stainless steel kiln heats up to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit in less than ten minutes, thanks to the high-temperature thermocouples which manage and distribute the heat within the firing chamber. This specialization ensures your creations come out perfectly. The kiln is designed so you can make jewelry with precious metal clay (PMC) or glass, glass fusing, glaze testing, and ceramics. Using the kiln indoors is safe so long as there’s proper ventilation. Its exterior measures 8 x 7 x 13 inches, while the firing chamber measures 6 x 5 x 6 inches. The RapidFire features a digital control panel for programming PID temperature, an embedded heating element, and a wide-opening door.
Cons: You may find the instructional manual unhelpful, especially if you’re new to jewelry-making pottery.
Bottom Line: This may be a perfect match if you’re looking for a kiln with the performance features the RapidFire Pro-LP offers. It’s even lightweight, at only 12 pounds so that you can take it on the road.
Tabletop Furnace Company RapidFire Pro-L
A lightweight kiln sure to impress with its functionality, portability, and performance level.
Pros: The RapidFire Pro-L Kiln furnace shares many of the features of the Pro-LP. It heats up to 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit in only eight to ten minutes, thanks to RapidHeat technology. The Pro-L makes an ideal kiln to make jewelry and ceramics, fire precious metal clay, enamel, fuse glass, and test glaze. There’s an easy-to-operate digital control panel and wide-opening door for your convenience. The firing chamber measures 6 x 5 x 6 inches, and the exterior is 8 x 7 x 13 inches. Not too small for your work, not too big for most houses.
Cons: This kiln cannot be used for wax burnout procedures or melting glass.
Bottom Line: This lightweight, portable, high-performing kiln has everything professional artists need. Given its power, it may surprise you that it weighs only 12 pounds.
As a novice or professional potter, you can make it easier on yourself by having a kiln to create a masterpiece in your personal space. Take your pottery-making skills to the next level with this critical piece of equipment on the go or in your studio.