For centuries, creating jewelry from precious metals like silver and gold was a complex process that took years to master. With sacrificial molds, molten metals and expensive casting equipment, traditional metal jewelry making was out of the reach of many creative people.
The creation of precious metal clay (PMC) greatly expanded the design and crafting field for aspiring metalsmiths. This clay involves genuine silver or gold particles suspended in a binder that acts similarly to modeling or ceramic clay. You can roll, cut and shape it like normal, but once it's baked in a kiln, the binder evaporates away to leave nothing but pure metal. Naturally, you need the right kiln to produce temperatures high enough to purify the mixture.
Choosing a PMC Kiln
You can certainly use a kiln designed for ceramics, but these models are larger than necessary for small jewelry projects, and therefore cost too much to run. The perfect PMC kiln is a small tabletop model with a front-loading design. You'll often see them marketed for glass jewelry as well. A kiln for jewelry making needs precise temperature controls and quick heating to avoid wasted energy.
The RapidFire Pro L
Newcomers and established jewelry artists alike have stated that the RapidFire Pro L is a great kiln for jewelry making. Its 12 lb. weight makes it as portable as possible, allowing you to bring it along for classes at a local community center or studio. The interior reaches the perfect temperature for PMC, 2200 degrees F, within 10 minutes so you don't have to spend all day waiting just to fire your favorite designs. The digital controller allows you to move the temperature by just a few degrees, yet this advanced kiln still plugs into a standard outlet because it only draws 1500 watts like a space heater or toaster oven.
Ready to commit to this form of jewelry making as a career? Upgrade to this more advanced precious metal clay kiln when you truly fall in love with the art of metalsmithing. It's just as lightweight and fast to heat up as the Pro L model, but features a much more advanced controller, allowing you to adjust the heating and cooling cycles experienced inside the kiln. The 30 steps of ramp up and soak down control make this PMC kiln ideal for complex projects where small details need precise firing. You can set the exact temperature at any point of the firing process with a 0.2% accuracy. There's also a security locking feature so that beautiful pendant you spent 12 hours sculpting won't be ruined by a curious person trying to see if the kiln's in use.
Once you have a kiln that can handle PMC, you'll be ready to expand into other forms of jewelry making. Both of these kilns cost far less than comparable models and are worth every penny if you dream of a career in jewelry design.