WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL? | Bullseye Glass Co. | Bullseye Glass Co


READY, FIRE, AIM. Before you start kilnforming on this scale, you might want to understand what you’re doing.

I was about to unmask the fools who started the COE mess when I got a private email asking me why I was making such a fuss about compatibility standards when – by our own admission – Bullseye’s are likely tighter than they need to be.

First of all, that wasn’t quite the point of my rant, but I’ll take a momentary detour here to explain why this stuff matters…

When you’re starting out, the misinformation that you learn and the glass that you use may not create problems. Your projects and your equipment will likely be small. You can get away with breaking a lot of rules when you’re making earrings and even plates.

THE TORO. Designed and built at Bullseye: the heating controls, venting, and shelf configuration address the specific needs of large scale work.

When you scale up, what you learned as a beginner and the tolerances of the glass you work with can make the difference between success and costly failure.

This is a huge topic. Some of the major issues are:

• Understanding large kiln design
• The large shelf: materials, sources, maintenance
• Insuring even heating in the kiln chamber
• Firing schedules for larger work
• Problem solving off the charts

I couldn’t begin to cover this stuff in a blog. And lots of kilnformers don’t need it yet. But they DO need a strong foundation and understanding of the basics. I’m trying to wade through that stuff in my blog rant on COE.

For the Big Stuff, I strongly suggest that anyone who is working – or intending to work – on a large scale, come to Portland for BECon 2007 where we’ll be talking about this stuff, and more.

THINK ABOUT IT. Simplicity – when it’s big – isn’t quite so simple.

Now, back to the urban legend of the COE…

5 Responses to WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL?

  1. AmyB says:

    While its true that someone new to kilnworked glass and making smaller work doesn’t need to understand some of this info., if you have any plans to grow in your work, you should definitely learn it from the beginning. When I started I had no idea where I was going, but I am grateful that I learned what I did along the way, so that when my work became more ambitious and extremely challenging in other areas, I understood many of the things I needed to know about the glass already. Having to undo bad habits and correct misinformation (esp. as a result of having something go wrong!) would have been very discouraging at that point.

    When you are building most anything, a strong foundation is a very good thing! So I would recommend that even someone new to the kiln take the time to understand glass as thoroughly as they can. You never know where you will go.

    Great blog Lani–would be interesting to read all the emails and PM’s you get from people…

  2. Lani says:

    “…would be interesting to read all the emails and PM’s you get from people…

    Yeah, Amy, I wish people were more comfortable posting their opinions publicly, but I can understand their reluctance at times – especially in the light of how creepy the blogosphere can be. OTOH I usually learn a lot from creeps. – Lani

  3. Morganica says:

    OK, so I was thinking about getting a bigger kiln, and now I want YOURS. Electric bill and all. ‘Course, I’ll have to buy a second house to hold it, but hey–

    I do have to disagree that the “technical stuff” doesn’t matter as much when you’re starting out. You may not need to understand all the details, but getting the right guidelines from instructors and suppliers is the difference between having your first pieces turn out exactly right and giving up in frustration because everything breaks, devits, gets big holes, etc.

    As I’ve mentioned, my first fusing class (it was 1994 so I can call it fusing) was a disaster. The instructor was a stained glass teacher who’d just bought a kiln for “income potential.” He told a dozen students that (a) any glass in his store, including window glass, would work in our projects, (b) if your project stuck to the (unkilnwashed) mold it was a sign you hadn’t cleaned it well enough and (c) “annealing” was another term for cooling off the kiln.

    We were making smaller plates and stuff and believe me, we had problems. Expensive problems. Even though I’d been doing pate de verre and torchwork for years (and was just getting into glassblowing) and KNEW what he was telling us sure didn’t work with that kinda stuff I thought…”well, maybe it’s different with fusing.” (Yeah, I was dumb)

    When we opened the kiln, of course I saw I should have trusted my instincts. I dumped the class, found a good instructor, bought a bunch of books and settled in to experiment and really LEARN this stuff. And made it a policy to question authority a bit more, which makes me a smartass in class…but that’s a different story.

    But…anybody wanna take bets on how many of the 11 other students in that class stuck with kilnforming?


  4. Marc Hines says:


    After reading this blog entry, I find myself coveting both the TORO kiln and that huge fork lift! I believe the Psychiatric Term for this insane love of large machines is: ‘A Stupid Guy Thing’. Or is it a kiln forming obsession symptom? Now I’m not sure.

    I will be attending BECon 2007 this year – so I fear the symptoms are only going to get worse.


    p.s. Will the TORO be available in next years BE catalog? If so, can I get it in Ferrari Red?

  5. davidknox says:

    Hi Lani

    I think your point about understanding the glass, the kiln, the tooling, the interactions -hopefully from the start- but at least along the road, is a good one. Not necessarily because you will avoid problems- but because it will allow you to create some very good work. So much of the art form is the methodology and the materials and in order to be good (or at least varied)- you need to understand it. In thinking of a new glass or piece, being able to “see” in my mind what is happening with the glass during the kiln-process of the work is critical to me. I can’t do that- much less design a suitable tool- unless I intimately understand what is going on with my equipment, material, the process and configuration. I think without that knowledge, you end up clinging more to what you know and repeating the same thing over and over- at least that is what I have observed.

    Cheers- David

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