A couple months ago I bought a bead rack from Bisque Bead Supply owned by a clay buddy I met online years ago on the Beads of Clay group that we both belong to.
I am always looking for ways to make loading the kiln a little easier with all the small jewelry pieces I make. I have a small kiln that is 8" by 8" which by industry standards is known as a test kiln. Saturday I decided to use the rack for the first time. I put the high fire wire through one of the holes and then loaded three glazed beads and pushed the wire to the other side and let it sit on the matching hole. The rack has holes all along the length of it at different heights. So it's easy to figure out where you want your beads to be set and how many per wire, all depending on the size of your beads. I also used one space to hang pendants from the top indentations, this way you make full use of the whole height of the rack.
The rack made the loading easier than I had done before, I'm always having to reach all the way to the bottom of the kiln to set several wires along one row at a time, it can get tedious and tiring after a while. I took the rack to the table, beads on a plate and started filling it. When I was done I picked the whole thing and put it in the kiln and voila' I was done. The wires I used were about 7" long, this gave plenty of room for the wire to go across and pass the holes on the opposite side, and after I had filled the rack I realized if I play it well I can hang stuff on the outside too! Note that if you put something on one end, make sure to put an item on the same wire on the other end, so the weight does not tip the item on the other side because the wire will be lifted a little bit until the hole stops it. Basically use a balance approach. The pictures above were taken before loading into kiln.
|Rack has been set on top section of kiln|
The picture right above here you can see the left row is where I hung the pendants I talked about above, and also two pendants on the outside of the rack one on each side. I want to point out also that putting these pieces on the outside (specially the pendant row because of its weight) will avoid sagging of the wire thus avoiding pendants to stick to rack floor. For those of you who are not ceramic people, things to look out for when doing a glaze firing is that things cannot touch (or rack sides) otherwise they will stick together and will not be usable, you can also see that not all wires had items on the outside because they'd be too close risking getting stuck.
I really liked the bead rack. It's durable, small, stackable. The size is perfect for my kiln, it was a breeze to fill up and load in kiln. I am going to order a second one since they are stackable, two will fit just right in my little kiln. I could see these racks be made in bigger sizes too, I think they could be used with larger kilns where you could have several in one firing. I do want to say that this load took fewer beads than I usually put in the kiln, but saving my back from being tired and in pain for the years to come, is worth it to me. The price for the bead rack is $34.95 plus shipping. You can get the rods to suspend the beads and pendants also at Bisque Bead Supply click Supplies on the left and it will give you the choice to check the different sizes and gauge. The wire that I used to fire the beads is nichrome high fire wire, I buy this at my local supplier and it's gauge 17.
If you think you might want to save time in loading your kiln I'd say give this rack a try. They are available at Bisque Bead Supply made by ceramic people and most of all it is made in the USA. You can also buy lots of bisque items that are ready to be glazed and fired, their selection is really big for lots of designs for your ceramic jewelry. BBS is family owned by Marla James.
Please let me know what you think and if maybe you are thinking of getting one. Wednesday I will post my experience of the results of this firing, it was the first time I did a one time firing.... stay tuned for the results of the firing and close ups of the items pictured above.