Pottery Kiln For Beginners | Easy To Use

Pottery kiln for beginners

Pottery kilns for beginners are listed below. An electric pottery kiln is great choice for a beginner because it is easy to use. Ceramic starter kilns are listed by price with the least expensive kilns listed first. To get started quickly, I'll review pottery kilns listing a few easy-to-use electric kiln models and features I like. I hope this will jump start anyone looking for an electric pottery kiln.

Best Electric Kilns for Beginners
Model Comments Temp Price
Jen-Ken AF3C 11/9 Ceramic Kiln Top loading. Can be used on standard 120V current. Uses an Orton AF3C controller. Built with 3 inch bricks 2100F $827
SC-2 Portable Kiln Front loading. Used in thousands of art centers and schools across the country. Very popular. Weighs about 36 pounds so it portable. 2000F $834
Skutt KMT-614 Top loading and can be fired on regular household current using a special 30 AMP outlet. Great for artist with limited space. Can add the KMT Touchscreen for an extra $300. 2250F $1,248
Paragon Express 66-3 7-Sided Top loading with 3 inch firebricks. Made in America. Comes with a two position lid vent which is very handy. 2300F $1,214
Evenheat Ceramic Kiln - RM II 2322 Top loading. Great for ceramic studios. Large 22 inch deep and 23.5 inches in diameter. Can fit most medium to large ceramic projects. 2 and ½ inch bricks. I like the load bearing hinge and the two position lid vent. Multiple controller can be purchased including the TAP Touchscreen controller by SDS Industries. 2300F $1,803
Paragon TNF-82-3 8-Sided Top loading. Large enough for most ceramic projects. Also has 3 inch bricks. A great hobby kiln. 2350F $1,810
Paragon TNF-23-3 10-Sided Top loading with 22 and ¼ inches deep. 3 inch thick sidewalls. Can handle low-fire wares. A high school teachers favorite. 2350F $2,353
Paragon Janus-23 Top loading. What I like is the easy to pen spring counter-balanced lid. A folding arm hold the lid in the open position for loading and unloading. 2350F $2,868
Paragon DRAGON Pottery Kiln Industrial kiln but affordable, well if you 6,000 plus some change. What I like is the door swings open wide. Has the nice Sentry12-key controller but can upgrade to the new Sentinel Touch Controller by Barlett which is very nice and easy to operate. 2350F $6,181

There are many types of kilns. Kilns can be classified based on many different criteria. So I hate to say there are just 2, 3, or 4 types of kilns. A broader understanding of kilns is needed. So let me start by saying a kiln can be classified by what is used to heat the kiln or what you fired in a kiln. For example, some kilns are used to fire pottery, and others are used to fire glass. If you use heating sources, then the most popular, not including wood as a heating source, etc. there are 2 types for beginners. There are electric and gas. I would not include other heat sources for kilns in this article, as I believe they not really for beginners. Not to say a beginner can't learn to use a wood-fired kiln, I am just saying it not typical and a topic for another article. Advanced knowledge is needed to successfully operate wood-fired kilns. And for that matter, I would go as far as to say gas kilns fall into a beginner category either. In my opinion, there is only one type of kiln good for beginners and, that is an electric kiln. So to quickly summarize, in my opinion, the best beginner kiln is going to be an electric kiln.

Best kiln type for a beginner


Now, this brings us to the types of electric kilns and which type of electric kiln is the best choice for a beginner. There are also many different ways to classify electric kilns. For example, I could say the different types are front loading and top loading. Or I could go by size, or even manual or controller operated. So, to keep things simple for beginners, I will limit this article to an electric controller operated kiln as I feel this is the best choice for a beginner. Plus, this is the most common type of kiln used in creating ceramics. And this is what I do and most likely what you are wanting to do as well.

For electric kilns, your power source is significant. If you have a 120v source, at that point, you will be restricted to a kiln under 18 inches. Notwithstanding, you can do as I did and get an electrician to install a 240v power source and run a bigger electric kiln. It is a great choice, and depending on the size of your artwork may be a necessity. On the off chance that you are keen on a gas kiln, you should investigate your city or region codes. Additionally, you should check with the insurance company and see what they will cover. Most insurance agencies approve of electric kilns. Gas ovens are another beast entirely. As I would see it, except if you are a business shop delivering a large number of pieces, electric is the best approach. Running gas lines, venting and hoods can cost as much as the whole gas furnace itself. One last note I'll make is I am not talking about glaze colors. Colors will turn out differently bases on whether you used gas or electric kiln. Just note that in gas kilns, the fuel uses up a lot of the oxygen and causes a color-changing glaze. So, for example, the color Red may come out a lot cleaner looking in a gas kiln as opposed to an electric kiln. I do not think this would be a problem for a beginner looking for an easy to use kiln. But I wanted to mention here.

Pottery kilns and controllers for beginners


On an electric kiln, you have a controller or you don't. If you do not then it's going to be manual and you will need to stand by your kiln while in operation and manually control the firing. In my opinion, for a beginner, a controller is going to be much easier to operate. In an electric controller kiln, the temperature is controlled automatically. An electric kiln can shut itself down upon attaining a specified temperature. Another important feature of an electric kiln is the ramp controller. Most new electric kilns come with a ramp controller. A ramp controller allows you to control the temperature by how fast you want the temperature to climb. In most cases, the kiln will hold the temperature for some time before climbing to a higher temperature. As temperatures fall, the temperature can be held for a specific time before going to a lower temperature. It depends on if you want to monitor your kiln or put a controller in charge. Some artists grow tired of the monitoring process and let the control do all the work. Some say you need to know what is going on and be in control. If you understand how to program the controller, then you are in control and understand how the controller will manage temperatures and the entire firing process. It is a matter of choice. To set up the controller before firing it's a lot like cooking your food in a microwave. You punch in a bunch of numbers and you let the controller do all the work. My preference is to let the controller do all the work. I program the controller, so I know how the controller is going to manage the firing process. I check in every hour or so to visually inspect the process and see how things are going. In my opinion, letting the controller do the work is the way to go. It eliminates all the stress of remembering to take action, ensuring temperatures and exactly as intended. And automatic controller does all this and assures temperatures as exactly as intended. The hardest part is setting up the automatic controller. How easy or hard depends on the brand you choose. So controls are so sophisticated it allows monitoring via your computer, tablet, or smartphone. With the touch of a button, you can check in to monitor the process without having to be there in person. But as you know, all these features come at a price. One final word is that I never leave the house for extended periods while firing. No matter how good a controller you have things can still malfunction and you need to be available to handle it.

Choosing the right size pottery kiln for a beginner


Kiln size is an important consideration for beginners. And the first question you have to ask yourself is what are the dimensions of your artwork? If it's not going to fit into the kiln then this a big problem. There is no way you are going to be able to fire it. You can ales start out with a smaller kiln and gradually work you way up to a larger size kiln but that is expensive and it limits the size of your artwork especially in the beginning. Most folks will most likely place a kiln in the garage or basement so a 23 inch by 27 inches kiln will fit. This is the most common size for an electric kiln. This is a great size for the average potter. You can move up to a larger kiln like a 29 inch by 27 inches for larger pots. This is also a great size. My recommendation is you should purchase the largest kiln you can afford and then grow into it. Also, keep in mind anything over eighteen inches will require a 240V power source. As you create larger artwork you will have plenty of room in the kiln. The only downside I can think of is with a larger kiln you will want to fill it before firing. As a result, it could be weeks or longer before your fire.

Best kiln shape for a beginner


I use an octagon shape in which later I found out is not an optimal shape. The best shape for beginners is a square or a rectangle and the reason why is because they offer the most flexibility. You are always going to be able to fit the largest square shape in it. If you had a round kiln the size of your square would be much smaller. Another factor to consider is how deep is your kiln. Depth is important because you will be bending over loading and unloading your kiln. Bending over all the time loading and unloading pots can cause lower back strain. I would spend the extra money and purchase a kiln stand. A kiln stand is great for beginners because it raises your kiln and makes it much easier on your back. Plus most come with casters so when it's time to move it out of the way you can easily roll it to where it belongs.

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