First, it's kind of fun to do a comparison of what the glass pieces look before and after they're fired. For example, let's take a look at my second batch of test pieces.
These are the "before" pieces. As you can see, we have a lot of actual corners/edges, and a bunch of them are quite rough. The blue and green pieces I was especially interested in, since I was testing some tube-style glass beads for detail work.
The squarish piece up top and the white/green/orange oval at the bottom were another experiment to see if they would completely flatten out, or if they would just tack-fuse together. Those who spotted the purple cabochon in the center might recognize it from the first test fire...just because it's a failed piece doesn't mean it stays a failed piece when it comes to glass fusing!
And now take a look at the final product.
The green piece, I was kind of meh on the overall product, but it served it's purpose - the lines of glass tube beads formed nice neat lines, which show that I can use them for decorative purposes to try to create some patterns.
The blue piece had a similar result, but didn't fully fuse - back into the kiln, it's going!
The dark square-ish cabochons might be sellable as a set of earrings, but I really am thinking they could use some sort of extra embellishment in the centers.
As for the slagged bit in the upper right...I'm not sure what to do with it, since it was a bunch of scrap pieces to start with. I'm thinking I'll add another piece in the center and try re-fusing it. Back to the kiln with you!
And finally...the little purple cabochon was from the first test firing, but I accidentally put it upside down. This time, I turned it right-side up, and thankfully it re-fused properly.
|Kingpin 88 without bead door, with viewing window|
as shown on the http://www.cooltools.com/ website.
The programming was a little harder than I had hoped to figure out, but the kiln does come with a DVD that has instructional videos, and the same videos are available on Evenheat's website and Youtube. After a quick review, I found that selecting the options for glass was surprisingly easy - there are settings for 90COE, 96COE, and I believe 87COE, as well as options for full fusing, slumping, and tack fusing. There are also options for selecting whether you want a fast fuse, medium fuse, slow or super slow fuse, so there really is a broad spectrum of options depending on which project you're going for.
For the most part, the process is simple: place firing shelf in kiln. Place firing paper on shelf (or use kiln wash if that's your thing, but the paper is SO easy to clean up and apply) and place products on top of the paper. Shut the door. Plug kiln in, power it on, select your program, and off you go!
Granted this is my first kiln, so I really haven't had a chance to do a comparison with other models (since they're kind of expensive!), but if anyone wants a recommendation for a good starter kiln, I'd say that the Kingpin 88 has my vote.