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Topic: Any cheap alternatives to kilns?  (Read 30004 times)
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« on: March 08, 2009 10:04:32 PM »

I've been itching to try out making ceramics - but the cost of kilns keeps holding me back.  Is there a cheaper alternative to buying one of those expensive ones? 

Unique handmade jewelry and henna art
« Reply #1 on: March 10, 2009 02:25:00 PM »

If you are just interested in trying out ceramics I would suggest you take a class first.  Typically in part of the class offering they will fire your pieces for you. Another less expensive alternative would be to join some type of studio where you would pay a monthly fee to join and perhaps a fee per kiln fire. I just recently purchase my first kiln and I found a used one on craigslist.

Hope this helps!


crafty gurll
« Reply #2 on: March 10, 2009 08:12:42 PM »

I would definitely try a class first, to make sure you enjoy it, which I'm sure you will. Cheesy  Kilns usually require a 220 line, they should be vented outside and are expensive to fire.  Plus in the class they will teach you about the firing process, glazing, handbuilding & wheelthrowing.  Good luck!
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2009 01:25:49 PM »

As a ceramist with a home studio, I have a couple of suggestions:
DO NOT buy a kiln, either new or used, until you are sure that you want to commit to ceramics. They are expensive, usually require 220 power, and sometimes other structural improvements. You can't just buy one, bring it home in your car, and plug it in and start firing away. (There are some test kilns, in which one or two small pieces will fit, which can be used with household current.) When we bought our Skutt a couple of years ago, we had to have electrical work done, and the total for the work plus the kiln came to more than $6000. You may not have the same issues, but some always arise.  There is also the issue of kiln "furniture" (shelves and posts) and kiln wash, cones, and various other sundries. These can run you an additional $500 -$1000. My spouse and I are both potters, so we thought the investment prudent, and it has turned out to be so. BUT, we knew we loved ceramics, so we were ready to commit.
The suggestion to take a class first is excellent - if fact, taking several before you set up at home will pay dividends, if you pay attention to what is done not only in class, but out of class, i.e. firing of kilns, mixing glazes, storing clay, etc. Depending on where you live, an art center with pro potters will be the best, these folks know what works, obviously.
I must disagree that an electric kiln is expensive to fire. Our Skutt will fire to cone 6 (2232 F) in about 10-12 hours. By firing overnight, when electricity is cheapest, it costs us about $3 to fire a kiln load.
Of course, this is just the raw electricity cost, the taxes and fees make it a bit more (maybe $5.)
I have gone on for too long, and this isn't meant to discourage you, but kilns, studios require somewhat of a hefty investment in both money and time.  In our current economy, those issues are best taken into account, no?
If you do decide that you love ceramics, and do set up at home, you will be amply rewarded. It is an amazing, and amazingly rewarding activity.
no such thing as too many projects!
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« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2009 06:51:39 PM »

I agree, taking a class is a great way to get access to a lot of equipment. I would also ask around the ceramics community where you live - someone might have an idea of where you can use a kiln, or you might have a potter in your neighborhood that can share their kiln for a small fee. Have fun!

crafty momma to Lilu and Toby
Martin Handmade Tile
« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2009 03:05:47 PM »

Wow, yeah it seems like the investment is pretty steep.  I will def take up a class first to see if I like it - and wait till my DH finds a job  Cheesy  Argh, this economy!

Unique handmade jewelry and henna art
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2009 04:51:54 PM »

If you aren't able to take a class, try and find a place that will fire pieces.  Check the phone book, there was a place where I used to live that fired pieces for $0.50- $5 depending on the size.  Ceramics places like that are usually in wierd places, this one was behind a warehouse next to a rock quarry, so you have to look around, they won't be on main street.

squeeky 01
« Reply #7 on: March 22, 2009 03:59:48 PM »

Hi,I just joined this site and saw your post.I am a potter also and read the posts regarding your inquiry. If you are not sure about starting pottery or ceramics,you may think about trying polymer clay for small objects,(pendants,beads,etc).You would need to dedicate a small toaster oven to just making polymer products.DO NOT use the toaster oven for ANYTHING BUT POLYMER CLAY! You can pick up used ovens fairly cheaply at 2nd hand stores,Goodwill,etc.I just started using polymer clay and just loved the fun easy things I can make with it. Polymer clay(it is not clay but a vinyl product that works similar to clay) itself can get a little spendy so shop before you buy,you may also have to buy special jewelry tools if that is what you decide,anyway, when I take time from the real clay I play with the polyclay.
« Reply #8 on: April 03, 2009 04:56:31 PM »

taking a class would be the best suggestion...and then the polymer (albeit it doesn't give the same effect)

« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2009 12:20:27 AM »

here is another cheap way to get started that involves just a little research to get started type in the words "raku instructions" on Google. Raku is a Japanese pottery style that requires much less heat than kiln firing.

It must be noted that Raku Is Definitely no food safe... but a great start for art pieces.

On a side note : I picked up a small kiln for $60 on Craigslist that is 110 volts (standard household power). It fires to 2200 degrees.

I out fitted it with an electronic timer and thermostat. the whole thing cost around $100 to do. I am not only firing ceramics but also working glass and metal. So there are cheap ways to get started.
« Last Edit: October 13, 2009 12:26:36 AM by jbonato28 - Reason: Correction of safty information. » THIS ROCKS   Logged
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