Arte Es Vida

The JEC UltraLite Beehive Kiln by arteesvida
December 16, 2006, 10:42 pm
Filed under: Product Reviews

The best thing about the JEC UltraLite Beehive Kiln is that it is truly is home studio friendly…even if your home studio consists of your dining room table! The kiln was originally been developed by JEC for fine metal granulation (which it does beautifully) and enameling but was upgraded so it fire metal clay as well!

In order to fire metal clay, you do need to purchase ceramic inserts (see the second picture to see the ceramic insert inside the kiln) to lay the metal clay on for firing. Make sure that the clay is thick enough or it will bond to the insert during firing and take forever to come off! Most metal clay instructors recommend the raw clay being at least as thick as three playing cards stacked together. Because metal clay fires to heavy solid pieces, it is tempting to keep the pieces super thin but they don’t fire nearly as well.

Also available from JEC is a temperature control that isn’t necessary for firing metal clay but is very useful if you want to anneal glass or granulate fine or sterling silvers. If you are interested in making your own lamp work glass beads and pendants, I would definitely recommend purchasing the temperature controller so you can use this kiln to anneal your glass work!

The directions for firing the metal clays recommends leaving the kiln cover off to avoid overheating. This works well if you do not have your kiln in a location underneath an air vent. I started my kiln on my kitchen counter right underneath a low a/c vent that pushed too much air over the surface. I had to add the cover back on to keep the kiln hot enough to work with…but that also meant I had to pay strict attention to the piece to make sure it didn’t get overheated!

Metal clay is an expensive investment and the learning curve when you first start working with it can be a drain on your pockets. But the kiln is incredibly easy to use and you will start making saleable production pieces after only a couple of tries! You can purchase the kiln, the inserts, and even add on a temperature controller all for under 200 dollars. With most other kilns starting at 500 dollars this is an amazing deal…especially if you only want to make a few pieces at a time. (Since the kiln is so small, it wasn’t a huge electrical drain either…I noticed no appreciable difference in my electric bill.)

The JEC products site is expanding on a regular basis with new products being added all the time. The owner of JEC told me his is currently working on a book that will encompass all of the techniques (including glass annealing and glass slumping) that can be done with their kiln. When I had purchased my kiln, the only payment option was check or money order by mail but I noticed the site is now accepting PayPal as well. JEC also ships VERY fast. The customer service is just wonderful. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email them and ask…they were very patient with all the pestering I did when I was researching kilns for myself!

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Can you use any of the silver clays (like low fire 650 etc) in the ultra lite kiln?


Comment by Denice Gregory

I use my Beehive kiln with the temperature controller so I can fire at any temp. It might be harder to do if you arn’t using the temp controller though, if you are trying to keep it at a lower heat. Doable, maybe, but you will have to watch it closely.

Comment by arteesvida

WOW, you can anneal glass with this kiln. Can you briefly explain how to do this? I have this kiln but it needs a new heating element (friend gave me the kiln).

Comment by ELLEN

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