Cone System Metal Clay Firing Method

The SpeedFire Cone System, as pictured in Figure 3.18, is made up of a fiber cone that is connected to a tank of propane, and therefore, since propane burns at around 3450 degrees F, it becomes plenty hot enough to fire all types of metal clay, not just the low-fire varieties. It can also fire up to 100 grams of metal clay. Now, propane can actually become too hot and end up turning your silver clay into silver puddles, so this system also includes a pyrometer, which is a device used to control temperatures, and if you plan to use this system or a kiln (as discussed later), a pyrometer is very important to have in order to be able to control the temperature settings. The sensor on the pyrometer goes inside of the cone through a hole on the side. Then on top of the cone is a metal mesh grid where you can place the items you plan to fire. Under the cone is a one-pound propane tank. So, actually, it is supposed to work like a very scaled-down kiln.

Figure 3.18

SpeedFire Cone System with a small propane tank. ©Speedy Peacock Photograph

The Cone System includes the fiber cone section; metal mesh grid; pyrometer with probe; various brackets, nuts, and screws (as some assembly is required after purchasing the system); and a fuel tank stabilizer base. It sells for about $150. You have to buy the propane tank separately, but they are available at most hardware stores for around $5. You can also attach it to a much larger propane tank if you want the ability to use more fuel (see Figure 3.19). While this system is less costly than the average kiln, one thing to think about before deciding to purchase one is that for another $50 or so, you can actually buy a small kiln.

Figure 3.19

SpeedFire Cone System with a large propane tank. ©Speedy Peacock Photograph

Figure 3.19

SpeedFire Cone System with a large propane tank. ©Speedy Peacock Photograph

There are a number of important safety guidelines to follow when using this method of firing, and the manufacturer provides a document covering these when the system is purchased. One of the main safety points to remember is where the system will be set up when firing because due to the nature of the system's design, the heating element is positioned under the cone and, therefore, open flames can come up through the top of the cone. The manufacturer recommends working in a well-ventilated area (again due to the use of fuel as well as burning organic binding materials which is the case with other methods of firing metal clay previously discussed) and having at least an 18" clearance on all sides as well as the top of cone. This way, if any flames do flare up, items that may be combustible, such as curtains or clothing, will not be in the local area of the flames. Another obvious safety issue is that the top of this sucker is going to get really hot, so do not touch it. Even after turning it off, the heat will still be there, so if you want to remove metal clay items, you again need to use tweezers and quench them in a jar of water. (This is a good way to recycle old pickle jars.)

Along with safety guidelines, the manufacturer of the SpeedFire Cone System provides a range of times and temperatures for different types of metal clay. For the low-fire metal clay, for example, it recommends a 10-minute firing at a temperature of 1290 degrees F or a 20-minute firing for temperatures of 1200 degrees F.

For Art Clay 650, it recommends a five-minute firing for a temperature of 1472 degrees F or 30 minutes at 1200 degrees F. Optimally, it suggests using the longer firing times and lower temperatures, however. Remember that because this has a pyrometer attached to it, this provides a way to determine the temperature at which you are firing your pieces. Now, let's get down to the "how-to" part of this firing system.

Steps for Firing with a Cone System

You'll need the following supplies:

► SpeedFire Cone System

► 1 pound propane tank

► Butane lighter

1. Use the manufacturer's instructions to connect the propane tank to the other parts of the system.

2. Make sure that the pyrometer (see Figure 3.20) is reading the correct temperature for wherever you are firing at. For example, if you are in your garage and it is 80 degrees F in the garage, then the pyrometer should also read 80 degrees F. If necessary, you will need to adjust the pyrometer using the small plastic screw attached to the face of it.

3. Place the dried metal clay items to be fired on top of the grid (see Figure 3.21), and with one hand, insert a butane lighter under the code and above the stove unit and ignite it, and with the other hand, slightly open the valve (the black knob right under the cone), thus lighting the burner element.

Figure 3.20

SpeedFire Cone System pyrometer. ©Speedy Peacock Photograph

Figure 3.20

SpeedFire Cone System pyrometer. ©Speedy Peacock Photograph

Figure 3.21

SpeedFire Cone System metal grid. ©Speedy Peacock Photograph

Figure 3.21

SpeedFire Cone System metal grid. ©Speedy Peacock Photograph

4. Continue to open the valve a little at a time until you get to your desired temperature (which remember varies depending on the type of clay used). This may take a few minutes to open the valve; check the temperature and wait a few minutes and check again, and then repeat until you get to the temperature you want because it is not an instantaneous procedure. It takes awhile for the pyrometer to read the temperature when it changes, and also large drafts of wind or air can make the temperature fluctuate.

5. Finally, when you have the temperature you want, let the clay pieces fire for the recommended time (see Figure 3.22). For example, if you are using this on low-fire clay and want to fire at a temperature of 1200 degrees F, then you'll need to let it fire for 20 minutes.

Temperature Should Required 1200 Degrees

Figure 3.22

Heated cone system. ©Speedy Peacock Photograph

Figure 3.22

Heated cone system. ©Speedy Peacock Photograph

6. Just as with other firing methods, you'll see the organic material burn away, and once the firing time has been accomplished, you can turn off the unit. Use tweezers to remove metal clay items and place them in your jar of water.

Jewelry Making Secrets

Jewelry Making Secrets

No Other Jewelry Making Blueprint Is As Easy To Understand, Comprehensively Written Reasonably Priced As The Jewelry Making SecretsThis Is One Bold Guarantee That You Can Take To The Bank! I Will Do What No Other Jewelry Expert Will Dare Do... EXPOSE THE EXACT INSIDER SECRETS WHICH HAVE MADE ME SEVERAL FEW OTHERS STINKING RICH NOW THAT'S A FIRST!

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment