Review: Ultra-Lite Beehive Kiln

Ultra Lite Beehive Kiln

One of the most common questions for people just starting with PMC or Art Clay Silver is, How do I fire this stuff? The choices are:

- Kiln
- Ultra Light Beehive Kiln
- Hot Pot
- Speedfire Cone
- Stove Top Firing
- Torch Firing

All of them have their pluses and minuses, I won’t go into all of that here. A kiln is obviously best, but also the most expensive.

What’s the best compromise choice? To me, the best choice must:

- be able to be used indoors, by folks who may live in a big city high rise, and those who do not have a garage
- not have open flames or black smoke
- be able to fire all of the different types of clay

The only method (besides a kiln) that meets all of those requirements is the UltraLight Beehive Kiln by JEC Products. It’s relatively affordable ($150.00 with required ceramic inserts) and available from JEC and Rio Grande.

It heats up to about 1500 degrees. It uses 110 electricity and can be used on your kitchen counter. I’d put it on a ceramic tile or kiln shelf.

I own one of these and take it along to all of the classes that I teach for students to try if they want. The manufacturer also makes a nifty carrying case now, if you have a need for that.

I get no kick backs for recommending this product, it’s just a great little kiln. You can also use it for glass fusing, enameling and granulation.

Where to buy:

From Rio Grande or
jecproducts.com
ultralitekiln.co.uk
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About the Author

ElaineI'm an artist, writer and provider of hard to find tools for metal clay. I blog about metal clay and jewelry making and the business of crafts at All Things Metal Clay.View all posts by Elaine →

25 comments on “Review: Ultra-Lite Beehive Kiln

  1. 1500 degrees Fahrenheit or Celcius?

    I want one of these min kilns, but I keep thinking, “can’t I just make one from a tungsten filament and a cylinder of Mullite(sp)?”

  2. One thing the review didn’t comment on was……

    Is the temperature controlable? How is this done? Can anyone answer my questions?

  3. Ah, good question. There is a controller that can be purchased separately, people use that to turn the temperature down to about 800 for use for Keum-boo.

    The top temperature of this kiln is about 1500 degrees (as stated in the Rio Grande catalog). You fire all three types of PMC in the kiln, just for different lengths of time.

    Elaine

  4. Pingback: 2007: A Blog Year in Review | All Things Metal Clay

  5. Rita O'Gorman on said:

    I was wondering if the controller for the beehive was the covers and how does that work? Is it possible to put it on some sort of rheostat to lower the temp?

  6. Here’s what it says at jecproducts.com about the control unit:

    Temperature Control–120V, 38.00

    You can find instructions on how to use it at that same site by clicking “Control Info.”

    Hope that helps!

    Elaine

  7. Hi

    We’re the distributor for the UltraLite in the EU and there’s a comprehensive description, with photos and instructions, on http://www.ultralitekiln.co.uk.

    You can use an in-line control to adjust the temperature, or move the lid off-centre. A digital pyrometer would help with exact temperature measurement.

    It’s great for metal clay work, although it’s a good idea to experiment with a few scraps of clay and the lid position before firing your work.

    Rob

  8. Thanks so much for that info. Rob! I’m glad to know of the UK distributor for our readers there,

    thanks,

    Elaine

  9. Deborah on said:

    I have a Beehive kiln and LOVE it for firing PMC. I’d like to know how to use it to fuse glass, but can’t find any specific instructions. Help?

    Thanks,
    Debbie

  10. Does anyone have a used beehive kiln for sale?

    Thanks. Mickey

  11. Amanda on said:

    Hi Elaine,

    Im just starting with metal clay pmc3-I bought a torch and my first ring I melted half of it and my 2 ring on got the outside cooked but not all the way threw and broke later. My question is the Beehive Kiln do you just pop it in for a few minits? and it’s cooked?

    Thank You,
    Amanda

  12. The Ultra-Lite kiln is much easier to use and more reliable than torch firing, for most people. (Some folks are really great at torch firing, but I think you have to learn it in person.)

    The whole firing process can take an hour or more, but it’s worth it because your items will be fully fired.

  13. I hear great things about the speedfire cone which heats to 1650* as well as the ultralite kiln which heats to 1550*. Can anyone tell me which one would be a better investment?

    • The Speedfire Cone features an open flame, so this is not something I would use indoors. Using it outdoors also poses a problem, if you live in a snowy climate. Wind can reduce the temperature of any kiln used out of doors.

      That is why I recommend the UltraLite as the best compromise for the price — it’s safe, you won’t melt your stuff and it won’t catch your curtains on fire! Short of a big kiln, it’s the best choice, in my opinion.

  14. I just received one of these kilns for christmas and I’m really excited. I want to use it for copper clay, am I able to? Does anywone know how I would I set up the copper clay with the carbon granules in this kiln?
    Thanks

    • The new QuickFire Copper Clays, such as the one from Hadar Jacobson and Art Clay, can be torch fired. I don’t know if those clays can be fired in the Ultra-Lite; I encourage you to ask the sellers of those clays! Metal Adventures CopprClay cannot be fired in the Ultra-Lite.

      Good luck, enjoy your new kiln!

  15. I am very interested reading all the feedback, it’s great. Just wondering what the maximum diameter of a piece would be in the Ultralite Kiln

  16. Excellent question for the manufacturer! I encourage you to write to him and ask! or call Rio’s tech support line, they may have an opinion.

  17. Hi
    I have just read your review and thought it was excellent! I am now a subscriber and you have inspired me to invest in the Beehive. One of the sites I have looked at mentions that if you need an extension cord, it has to be a specific one (which it sells for about $6). Does it really need to be a specific extension cord?
    Thanks again.

  18. jane on said:

    Hi there,

    I am interested in getting a behive kiln. Just wondering if it uses a lot of electricty? Being in a shared flat I may need to warn my flatmates…

    Many thanks.

  19. if you need an extension cord, it has to be a specific one (which it sells for about $6). Does it really need to be a specific extension cord?
    Thanks again.

  20. Has anyone used this little kiln to harden Argentium silver? From what I have read, 800 F is about right.

    I will have to order temp control cord

  21. The ultralite beehive kiln without a temperature control heats up to at least 1500 degrees. In reading the temperature for PMC3, it indicates the highest temperature is 1290. How would I adjust the beehive kiln without purchasing a temperature controller?
    Carolyn

  22. I’m having the hardest time finding the answer to this question on the internet. Does anyone know if the Ultra Lite Beehive kiln will work with BRONZE??

  23. jeanne on said:

    here’s a container to hold bronze, i’ve not used bronze but if it needs to be fired in a container w/ charhcoal, it might not fit under the beehive lid. here is some info about tempurature control being important, controllers being ‘off’
    http://www.metalclaysupply.com/Half-Ceramic-Firing-Vessel-p/54751.htm

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