Anyone that works with glass will eventually need to fuse separate pieces together.
Traditionally this is done in a big and expensive kiln.
Of course, as a beginner or hobbyist you don’t want to invest a huge amount of money to buy a conventional kiln just to supplement your stained glass kit.
Today we will look at the best microwave kilns for glass fusing at home.
How Does a Microwave Glass Kiln Work?
In a conventional glass kiln, heat is applied from the outside. As the heat slowly travels to the center of the kiln where the glass is. The more heat you apply over time, the higher the temperature in the center will be. Since this is a pretty slow process, it might take some time before the glass fusing temperature is reached.
A microwave kiln works differently.
Rather than applying heat from the outside, you apply microwaves. These microwaves travel through the kiln much faster than heat would and are much more efficient.
At the inside of the microwave glass kiln, there is a layer of susceptor material. This material absorbs the microwaves and transfers it into heat.
Depending on the brand and if you use a large microwave kiln or a small one, the exact susceptor material can differ. But most of these materials can reach temperatures up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit or 1000 degrees celsius.
This way you can reach much higher temperatures inside your microwave than normal and even fuse glass together!
— Sarah Greening (@Greeningglass) 1 December 2017
Advantages of Using a Microwave Glass Kiln
There are several reasons to buy and several reasons not to buy a microwave kiln. To make sure you won’t be disappointed after purchase, make sure you understand the pros and cons.
Let’s first look at some of the reasons to buy a microwave glass fusing kiln.
- Price: buying a conventional kiln is very expensive. A small microwave kiln can drastically reduce the money investment you need to get started.
- Size: most microwave kilns are pretty small since they need to fit in your microwave. This means they are easy to store and you don’t need a special workplace.
- Speed: using microwaves to heat the inside of the kiln is much faster and more efficient than applying heat from the outside.
- Difficulty: it changes from person to person, but many beginners have mentioned that working with a microwave kiln is easier than a conventional one.
Disadvantages of Using a Microwave Glass Kiln
Unfortunately, there are some downsides as well to using a microwave kiln.
The biggest complaint is that the results can be pretty variable. Although it normally works exactly as you wanted, sometimes it seems like it doesn’t work at all.
This can partially be explained by the many different microwave models on the market. Depending on which microwave you use, you will need to change the watts and fusing time. And the instruction manual of your kiln probably doesn’t include detailed guidelines for your specific microwave.
This means you will have to do a fair share of experimenting before you can get good and consistent results.
This is a microwave glass kiln. Yep, you can make beautiful creations in your own microwave at home. pic.twitter.com/h6ibeXtvWH
— MakeMakers (@makemakers1) 16 June 2017
Glass Fusing Microwave Kiln Safety
Since the kiln can reach very high temperatures inside you should always be careful while using it.
Make sure you thoroughly read the instructions and understand everything before you start. Additionally, taking a glass fusing class online can help a lot if the manual is difficult to understand.
If the instructions indicate that the kiln only works with glass, don’t try to use other materials such as ceramics, metals or precious stones. Some of these materials might even explode due to the rapid heating.
Additionally, not all types of glass can be fused together. Check the manual to see which glass can be used and which ones can’t. It’s always a safe bet to ask if the kiln supplier also offers special fusing-compatible glass. They the pieces they offer don’t have the right shape, you can always use a glass grinder.
After fusing the glass, remove the kiln from the microwave, without letting it cool down. When moving the hot kiln around, keep it at arm’s length and always wear your heat-protective gloves.
Place it on top of a heat-resistant surface in an area with any combustible or easily flammable substances.
If at any point you see sparks inside the microwave it is generally a good idea to turn it off and check if something is wrong.
If you are fusing painted glass you might see some smoke appear. As long as it’s just a small amount, this is perfectly normal. But do make sure to work in a well-ventilated room.
Finally, don’t use the same microwave for preparing food and glass fusing. It is best to purchase an old and used microwave for your glass fusing projects.
Microwave Glass Kiln for Beginners
The basic Fusework microwave kiln kit contains glass, earring, glass paper, kiln paper, glass cutter and safety gloves beside just the kiln itself.
It can give you the complete glass fusing experience for a pretty low price.
Some of the possible Fuseworks microwave kiln projects you can do include all kinds of jewelry such as pendants, bracelets, and earrings.
The Fuseworks microwave kiln is not perfect and getting the right results can be tricky sometimes. However, overall it is still a great kiln for beginners who want to give glass fusing a try for the first time.
How to Use the Fuseworks Microwave Kiln?
If you read some of the microwave kiln reviews on the Fuseworks kiln, you will probably see that a few times that people complain that the instructions are insufficient for pure beginners.
Keep in mind though that using a microwave kiln sometimes is more of an art than a science. You will constantly have to experiment with different fusing times and how many watts to use depending on your project and microwave.
Having a friend that can show you how to do it will definitely be a big help.
The second best thing is watching an instructional video that shows you exactly how to use a microwave kiln to fuse glass.