Types of Kilns Used in Contemporary Art


Types of Kilns Used in Contemporary Art

In the world of contemporary art, kilns have become an essential tool for many artists. A kiln is a furnace or an oven that is used to dry, harden, or fire clay artworks. It is a highly specialized equipment that creates the ideal firing conditions for certain types of artworks. Kilns have evolved over the years and are now available in various types and sizes to accommodate different artistic processes. In this article, we will explore the different types of kilns used in contemporary art and their practical applications.

1. Electric Kilns

Electric kilns are the most common type of kilns used in contemporary art. They are cleanly and efficiently powered by electricity, making them popular among artists. Electric kilns are also convenient as they do not require any ventilation and can be plugged into a regular household outlet. They come in different shapes and sizes, from small table-top models to large industrial kilns. Electric kilns are ideal for beginners as they are easy to use and control the temperature. They are commonly used for firing pottery, ceramic sculptures, and glass artworks.

2. Gas or Propane Kilns

Gas or propane kilns use natural gas or propane to generate heat. These types of kilns are popular among professional ceramic artists as they offer a higher temperature range than electric kilns. Gas kilns can reach temperatures of up to 2,400°F, allowing artists to create unique and intricate glazes on their artworks. They are also quicker to fire compared to electric kilns, making them suitable for large and time-sensitive projects. However, the installation and operation of gas kilns require proper ventilation and safety precautions.

3. Wood-Fired Kilns

Wood-fired kilns have a long history in art and were commonly used in traditional pottery making. These kilns use wood as the fuel source, and the flames and gases from the burning wood interact with the clay artworks, creating unique and unpredictable effects. Wood-fired kilns can reach temperatures of up to 2,400°F, making them suitable for firing large and thick pieces of ceramics. However, they require a lot of time, effort, and skill to operate, making them less commonly used in contemporary art.

4. Raku Kilns

Raku is a Japanese firing technique that involves quickly heating and then cooling the clay artworks. Raku kilns are specifically designed for this technique and are commonly used in contemporary art. These kilns are small and portable and can reach temperatures of up to 2,000°F. Raku firing produces beautiful and unpredictable metallic-like effects on the artwork, making it a popular choice among artists.

5. Glass Kilns

Glass kilns are specially designed for firing glass artworks. These kilns are small and compact and can reach temperatures of up to 1,600°F. Glass kilns are equipped with advanced temperature control and heating elements that ensure an even and controlled heating process, resulting in beautiful and flawless glass artworks. They are also available in different shapes and sizes to accommodate different types of glass works, such as casting, fusing, and slumping.

6. Pit Kilns

Pit firing is an ancient method of firing ceramic artworks in a pit dug into the ground. This primitive technique is still used by contemporary artists to create unique and organic effects on their artworks. The kiln is simply a pit filled with wood, sawdust, and the artworks enclosed in a container. The pit is then lit up, and the fire creates smoke and ash that interact with the artworks, resulting in beautiful and earthy finishes.

In conclusion, kilns are an essential part of contemporary art and play a significant role in the creation of various types of artworks. Each type of kiln offers specific advantages and is suitable for different artistic processes. As technology and techniques continue to evolve, we can expect to see more advanced and specialized kilns in the world of contemporary art. Whether it’s a simple tabletop electric kiln or a large and complex gas kiln, each one has its unique benefits and contributes to the diverse and ever-evolving world of contemporary art.