If you have ever seen a conventional glass fusing kiln, you can probably guess from the huge size alone that buying one will be expensive.
Fortunately, you can use an affordable microwave kiln for glass fusing if you are just starting out.
Keep reading if you want to know more about these kilns; including how to use them, fun DIY projects you can do, and our recommended model.
How Does a Microwave Kiln Work?
In a conventional glass kiln, heat is applied from the outside and 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. This is a pretty slow process and 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.
At the inside of the microwave glass kiln, there is a layer of so called ‘susceptor’ material which absorbs the microwaves and transfers it into heat.
Depending the exact model, susceptor material and the maximum temperature can differ. But most of these glass fusing kilns for microwave use can reach temperatures up to 1800 degrees Fahrenheit or 1000 degrees celsius.
— Sarah Greening (@Greeningglass) 1 December 2017
Why To Use a Microwave Kiln?
- Price: buying a conventional kiln is very expensive. With a small microwave kiln you can try glass fusing without investing a huge sum straight away.
- 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.
Why Not To Use a Microwave Kiln?
- Reliability: using a microwave kiln can be a bit tricky and doesn’t always yield the expected results.
- Trial and Error: since there are so many different microwave, finding the right settings that work with your kiln might take a few attempts.
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
Recommended Microwave Kiln Kits for Beginners
Considering how niche glass fusing and jewelry making is, there is a surprising amount of available options when it comes to microwave kilns. Of course, I haven’t used every single one of them myself. But based on my experience and the reviews out there, I would recommend people to start out with the Fuseworks microwave kiln kit.
This kit includes everything you need to get started right away (kiln, kiln paper, glass, etc). It is about 3 inches in size, so big enough for most small projects.
However, the instructions that come with it are pretty bad. So you might want to refer to our instructions section below. Especially finding the right time and temperature to fuse the glass in your particular microwave will take some trial and error.
If you are looking to do bigger projects, you might want to look for a larger microwave kiln though.
Microwave Kiln Instructions
Most of the popular kilns out there don’t come with any manual or instructions. Instead, you can often find them on the website of the manufacturer. However, most models work very similar as shown in the instructional video above.
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 depending on your microwave and the type of glass you are using.
That’s why you shouldn’t follow the recommended 3 minute fusing time as mentioned in the video too seriously. I have seen plenty of case where almost 15 minutes where necessary for good results.
Additionally, not all types of glass can be fused together. So you can’t just start using pieces from old glass bottles. Check the online manual of your kiln to see which glass can be used and which ones can’t. Normally the manufacturer of the kiln also sells specific glass meant for fusing separately.
Microwave Kiln Projects and DIY Crafts
If you have successfully fused glass for the first time, you are now ready to start working on countless of new projects. Here are just a few ideas for your glass fusing kiln:
- Wall hangings
- Christmas tree decorations
- Fused glass wave panel
- Lamp shade
- Baby mobile
Glass Fusing Microwave Kiln Safety
Since we are all responsible adults, I’m sure you probably know how to not kill yourself. But just in case, here are a few quick pointers regarding safety when working with a microwave kiln.
- 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.
- 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.
- When moving the hot kiln around, keep it at arm’s length and always wear your heat-protective gloves.
- Place the kiln on 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 so you don’t inhale any of it.
- Don’t use the same microwave for preparing food and glass fusing. It is best to purchase an old or used microwave for your glass fusing projects.