If you’ve been keeping an eye on my Etsy shop, you’ll probably have noticed that I’ve been making a lot of glass fused jewellery of late. I’m making these pieces in a microwave kiln – something that has only been on the market for the last few years. These kilns make glass fusing an affordable hobby because it does away with the need for a traditional kiln which can set you back a lot of money.
If you’re thinking of taking up this fascinating hobby, you may be wondering what sort of microwave to buy for your kiln. The microwave kilns work in most microwaves but not all. This guide should help you to determine which one to buy.
The first thing to mention here is that you shouldn’t use the same microwave for glass fusing as you do for food. The reason for this is that glass gives off all kind of chemicals when heated to fusing temperatures and you wouldn’t want these hanging around in your microwave when you come to make food. So please do keep them separate and make the small investment of buying a dedicated microwave for glass fusing.
When it comes to picking the best microwave for glass fusing, you’ll want one that has at least 800W power. Any lower than that and your glass will take a long time to fuse, if indeed it fuses at all. Aside from that, you’ll be pleased to know that the rule of thumb is to go for a cheap brand or an unbranded microwave you might find at the supermarket. It turns out that a lot of the more expensive microwaves have an intelliwave detection-system which drastically cuts the power when “strange” materials are detected in the microwave. This is a great safely feature for food microwaves but a disaster when it comes to working with glass as this type of microwave will almost certainly stop your glass from firing because it thinks something fishy is going on!
Before buying, check the dimensions to ensure there will be enough room in the microwave to leave a reasonable gap between the top of the kiln and the roof of the microwave so that you can easily lift the kiln out of the microwave and also lift the kiln lid slightly to check on contents while it is still in there. Pretty much all microwaves will be large enough to accommodate the smaller size kiln. However, you may need to consider a larger microwave if you’ll be using the large kiln.
My final point when it comes to microwaves is that the base plate (the flat Pyrex tray at the bottom) should rotate as smoothly as possible. Unfortunately, this is something you probably won’t know before you make the purchase but it will make your life a whole lot easier if the rotation is smooth because, as you will discover, glass is extremely slippery and can easily be dislodged before fusing takes place. There are ways around this using glass glue or substituting the base plate for kiln feet so don’t worry too much if you run into this issue.
I hope this guide was useful to you. If you have any further questions, please leave a comment!