by Elaine Luther
Choosing a kiln when you’re new to a hobby can be difficult. But it’s not really that complicated. You know when you go shop at Costco (a warehouse club) and let’s say you need a DVD player.
They’ve got three usually. The most expensive, the cheapest, and the in between. They’ve narrowed down the choices for so you don’t have to go to an electronics store and be overwhelmed with choices and features you’ll never use.
I’m going to be Costco for you. I’ll narrow down the choices and keep it simple.
Well, most of us choose based on price and what we need. Here are some choices at different price points:
$555.00 Paragon SC3, computer controlled
$385 list Paragon Firefly, not computer controlled (see for $298.00)
$150.00 Ultra Light Bee Hive Kiln (see previous post)
There are other choces out there as well, I just happen to like Paragon. What can you do with a Paragon SC3? You can fire metal clay, do enamelling, and glass fusing. And you can plug it in, turn it on, and walk away (within reason, don’t leave the house, I just mean you don’t have to babysit the kiln).
The Paragon Firefly is new, a new kiln created to meet that missing price point for kilns. It takes a little more effort to load, since it doesn’t have a door in front that swings open on the front like the SC3. Also, it is not computer controlled, so it will take a little attention. Even so, it’s a big savings over the SC3.
My recommendation? Buy the best you can afford and justify. If you can afford a computer controlled kiln such as the Paragon SC3, then do get it. You’ll love it. It’s easy to use, holds a lot at a time and is a pleasure to use. They’ve improved all the little tiny problems with the SC2; they’ve upgraded the hinges and door catch.
If you don’t have $500.00, but still want a kiln to be able to fire combustible cores and such, I would get the Firefly.
If space is an issue, or you just can’t justify spending $300.00, then get the Ultralight Bee Hive Kiln. It’s terrific and even if you upgrade later, you’ll still want to keep this little kiln.
Why stick with Paragon? Why not? They make quality products, they’ve been around a long time and I expect them to be around in the future. You can buy replacement parts for you kiln, should you need them, and even send your kiln in for a factory repair if needed.
And many jewelry industry/metal clay suppliers carry Paragon, so it’s easy to find and buy.
Want more? Some other folks have written detailed comparisons of the various kilns out there. Here’s a link to the one by Mary Ellin d’Agostino: medacreations
And here’s the one by Tonya at Whole Lotta Whimsey: wholelottawhimsy
If you know of another comparison chart somewhere, or have a kiln to recommend, please post a comment!