This section provides general studio information – safety, tools, materials, set up, etc. Other chapters go into detail about these itesm.


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Elements for the Kiln

Alan Kravitz has two good tips about solving problems when dealing with elements:

1) Should part of your element pop out, don’t try to push it back in place while it is cold as the elements are brittle and can break. Alan suggests you slightly heat the kiln, turn it on for 30 seconds then off, unplug the kiln, and then push the element back in place, using a wooden stick. Use element clips/staples to keep it in place.

2) When replacing an element, if your replacement is supplied tightly wound, that is un-stretched, you have to pull it to length evenly (author's note: evenly is the key - you don't want the coils to be uneven otherwise you will get uneven heating). Alan suggests this while the kiln is cold. Remove the old element. Knot the end of a string and then lay it all the way around the element channel. Tie another knot when you get to the other end of the channel. Next put one knot at the end of the string and the element end, where the coil starts, in a vise. When both string and element are secure, pull the element stretching end of the coil to the other knot. Your element is now the correct length to be uniformly inserted. The ends of the element will have to be attached to the electrical system of the kiln, surprisingly you will find this an easy task replacing the old two connections with the new.

Author’s note: if you have a Vcella Kiln, the owner, Phil, will ship you a replacement element for your particular size kiln with the bends already in it so all you need to do is lay the element out and attach appropriately.


Although the book does talk about the need for eyewear and recommends which to use, metal clay enamelist Linda Kaye-Moses did a study of this subject and presents her findings here. Feel free to download this and share with others.

Portable Vacuum

Your studio benches do get messy with filings, dust and other debris. In edition the area around your kiln gets firescale dust and bits. The book shows the use of a soft washout brush (also comes in extra-soft) for clean up, but sometimes you need something more. I found this USB portable rechargeable vacuum that really works and I like a lot. It includes two heads and comes with extra filters that are reuseable. So far so good!

Aloe VeraBurn Remedies

I have always recommended Aloe Vera for burns and describe its use in the book. But I recently found this brand which I think is fabulous - Beauty by Earth Aloe Vera Gel. The main reason I like this is that it dries and leaves a coating on your skin, that works to chock the air off your burn (which is the main point I think is important in using aloe). This coating can be washed off or peeled off, but is good to keep on overnight to keep the air off the burned area. I have used it a few times - for lesser burns, it will totally remove the burn, but I did have a severe burn which it did not remove the entire blister, but got rid of the less burnt part of the problem and totally took away any pain I had. So, although I did have a small blister the next day, I really like the coating it left on my skin and, again, I had no pain.

Another excellent remedy is Silverdene, which is available in most pharmacy chains. All brands might be the same effectiveness. A prescription strength is more concentrated and you can use less.