Purchasing the right pottery kiln as a beginner can be a bit overwhelming. The market is thriving with a range of kiln models & types, and it could be difficult to get started. So, how would you choose the best kiln as you start your pottery journey? Purchasing a kiln can be a costly decision. You need to know all your facts and figures before making a purchase.
Here are certain factors you need to ponder about while selecting the best pottery kiln.
Select the Right Pottery Kiln for Beginners
1. Consider Between Used or New Kiln:
Before you head over to a local kiln shop or start shopping online, you first need to consider a used or new kiln. Now, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Let’s take a look at each variant in-depth.
Advantages of Purchasing a Brand New Kiln
- You will get access to an updated user manual for step-by-step consulting requirements.
- With new kilns, you would get access to quick customer support in case the machine shows any glitch or you are stuck without any information.
- Unless there is a manufacturing issue, new kilns tend to work very efficiently. You can easily predict the way it is supposed to behave during a firing process.
- New kilns come with a warranty from the manufacturer. So, you can get it replaced or repaired during the warranty period.
- New kilns feature the latest technologies that their old variants might not.
Advantages of Purchasing an Old (Second-Hand) Kiln
If you decide on getting a second-hand kiln, you can get some good ones at online spaces such as:
- Facebook Marketplace
Here are some advantages of getting a second-hand kiln:
- The prime advantage of purchasing a second-hand kiln is, no doubt, its cheaper price tag. The price of the kiln can vary immensely depending on its age and condition.
- It is ideal for beginners who don’t want to invest a lot during the test and trial phase.
Apart from the pricing part, it makes sense that you should invest in a new kiln as opposed to an old one. However, the final choice would vary depending on your personal preference and budget.
2. Decide the Right Kiln Size:
Kilns are available in a range of sizes and shapes. They can vary from small test kilns, ideal for firing doll heads or ceramic jewelry, to massive production-size kilns that can help you fire platters, plates, jugs, & dinner sets.
Kilns are generally created from a thick material that helps provide insulation. It is recommended that a kiln’s insulation material should be a minimum of 3 inches thick. When picking a kiln, ensure that you seek one that is at least 3 inches thick. Some older kiln variants are 2.5 inches thick. It is ideal for regular firing purposes. However, 3 inches insulation provides better efficiency.
This is just the internal part. In conjunction with the exterior, the complete machine would be a bulky one. Make sure your kiln has enough capacity to fire a minimum of 15 small or medium-size bowls. Also, make sure there is enough space in your work area to place the kiln without damaging it in any way.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Pottery Kiln for Beginners
When picking a pottery kiln for beginners, there isn’t any hard & fast rule for sizing up or down. Some common factors you need to consider are:
- What is the space available inside your home or work studio to place the kiln?
- What is the common pottery size you are making?
- How much pottery do you produce on a regular basis?
- Do you want to practice pottery as a hobby or as a career?
Pick your largest pottery work and check whether the kiln of your choice can easily fit this item. However, you also should go too big when buying a kiln. Firing a kiln that is half-empty would simply be a waste of money and electricity. So, it is better to refrain from purchasing a pottery kiln that is too large in size. If you go too big, it might take you even months, depending on your production speed.
An ideal choice you can opt for is the Seattle Pottery Supply 12-inch Top-Loading Pottery Kiln. This electric variant comes in a 120V option that can fire up to Cone 6 & the 240V variant can fire up to Cone10.
3. Check the Kiln’s Firing Temperature:
When searching for the perfect kiln, you need to go beyond the size and price. Before you jump in and make a purchase, ensure that the firing temperature range for the kiln is right for you. Kilns can fire at different temperatures. Certain kilns are designed specifically for firing at lower temperatures such as 1150oC, while others can fire as high as 1300oC.
One solution is to pick a pottery kiln that can fire to a temperature range that goes a bit beyond the average requirements. In case you continuously fire the kiln at maximum temperature, your machine’s consumables would wear out much faster, requiring the replacement of parts every now and then.
Make sure you understand the kiln’s temperature range and the cone that can be used with it. For example, if you plan on firing up to a cone 6 temperature range, it is ideal to purchase a kiln designed to reach a minimum of cone 10.
|022 to 09||1112oF to 1693oF||600oC to 923oC||Very Low-Fire|
|08 to 3||1751oF to 2134oF||955oC to 1168oC||Low-Fire/Earthenware|
|4 to 7||2167oF to 2264oF||1186oC to 1240oC||Mid-Fire/Stoneware|
|8 to 11||2305oF to 2399oF||1263oC to 1315oC||High-Fire/Porcelain|
|12 and 13||2419oF to 2455oF||1326oC to 1346oC||Very High-Fire/Kaolin (China Clay)|
With these factors in mind, you can focus on purchasing the best kiln for your daily pottery escapades. Make sure you do your research before investing in a kiln. Always start small and size up as you get better. Always ensure that you don’t go beyond your budget. At first, you might be attracted to get the priciest option in the market, but it would simply be a waste of money if you won’t be making pottery pieces regularly or for the long term. So, always adhere to your budget when purchasing a pottery kiln.