Tag Archives: glaze firing

DIY Kiln Bead Rack

DIY Bead Rack

Bead rack made of insulated kiln brick

Thanks to some good advice, I made a sturdy bead rack for glaze firing. Sadly, the Amaco Bead Tree I bought was problematic at best, so I desperately needed another solution. An alternative was suggested by Dan Severance, pottery guru and ceramics tech at the Port Moody Arts Centre. I’ve taken his advice a step further, customizing it to my needs precisely.

How to make a Kiln Bead Rack

Materials: an N95 face mask, safety glasses, work gloves, one insulated kiln brick (the lightweight kind), a rip saw or hack saw, a ruler, a pencil, narrow chisel or flat blade screw driver, hammer, and short lengths of 11 gauge nichrome wire.

Your basically going to cut a valley in the brick lengthwise. Dan suggested I make a ‘V’ shaped cut, which I will do with another brick, but for my purposes today, I made a ‘U’ shaped cut.


  1. Set up a work station outdoors or in a well-ventilated area. Use a sturdy table or flat surface. Place brick on its side lengthwise.
  2. Determine the width of your ‘U’ shape. Allow for adequate clearance on either side for the bead or pendant you are making. I decided on 7/8″.
  3. Draw two lines the length of your brick, keeping the area you’re going to cut out centred. The two walls of my ‘U’ turned out about 6/8″ wide.
  4. Determine the depth of your cut. My ‘U’ is about 3 1/2″ deep, leaving about a 1″ base.
  5. Put on your safety gear: mask, glasses, gloves.
  6. Using a rip or hacksaw, start making an even cut down through one of the cut lines you made. A rip saw cuts one way: pull it through the brick as you saw, move it back and start again. A hack saw works both ways: use even pressure and saw back and forth.
  7. Saw evenly through the length of both cut lines.
  8. Set aside your saw, then turn the brick over and shake the dust out of the cuts.
  9. Using either a chisel or flat blade screwdriver, carefully chisel out the middle part of the ‘U’, starting from the ends and working inward.
  10. After chiseling and removing debris from the ‘U’, stand it on end and do some ‘clean up’ of the bottom of the ‘U’ with the screw driver or chisel, making a flat surface on the bottom.
  11. Put your tools away and turn the brick over and shake out the dust.
  12. Measure out the lines indicating where the wire will sit on the top of your rack. I measured even lines about 3/4″ apart the length of the brick.
  13. Take your saw and cut crosswise over your ‘U’ to make indentations on either side of the ‘U’. I made mine about 1/8″ deep.
  14. Put your saw away.
  15. Gently widen the grooves with a nail by carefully raking it through the groove.
  16. Take nichrome wire and cut lengths to fit in the grooves. I cut my wire in lengths of about 2″. If you want, bend the wire into a very slight ‘V’. This will ensure your bead or pendant remains in place while firing.
  17. Test the wires out…place across the ‘U’ to see if they fit snugly. Adjust groove to fit your needs.
  18. Voila! Be careful with the insulated brick; it’s slightly fragile but makes a great bead rack that doesn’t take up too much kiln space.
DIY Bead Rack, end shot

DIY Bead Rack, end shot

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Open Studio Update, 8/23

Okanagan Peaches

Phew. Truth be told, I am much more tired than I thought I’d be when I came back from vacation. As it turned out, it was more of a working holiday. The scenery was gorgeous, rec activities were great, and the food  delicious, but it was all very labor intensive. I thought I could pull it all off, but. Not having the time stressed me out at first, but I soon became overwhelmed by obligations and hadn’t time to think about it. Am home, now, and I so want to write! Thus far, the highlight of my week took place today: the Open Studio. Much of my trip was spent looking at ceramics and while that was very satisfying and inspiring, I was itching to pick up a hunk of clay. Spending time with my studio buddies was so gratifying… I brought in organic peaches from the Okanagan, which we drove through two days ago. I just ate one over the sink because it was so juicy! Smelled like a peach and tasted like one, sheer heaven. I bought a flat of peaches and apricots but I don’t know how many will make it to the freezer for winter, heh heh.

Four Seasons Obelisk

Today: Placed the  chanterelle sculptures and pot risers in the bisque area, along with all the tiles from a July workshop. Glazed a low, wide bowl. Glazed another, but there were too many pin holes, so I washed it off and will redo it later. Worked on the  underglaze ‘snow’ on three “trees” tiles. The Art Centre has a number of benefits coming up and I want to finish all of my contributions now so I can concentrate on my work without interruption, i.e., Christmas presents. I found I was tired by 3 p.m., which was fine because, save lunch, I’d worked from 9 a.m. straight.

Next Tuesday: Bisquing toadstools; rolling out slabs, adding texture for an obelisk, leaving to firm up before cutting. Uncovering my experimental tubelined tile. Glazing chanterelles, workshop tiles and pot risers; reglazing bowl. Finishing three bisqued “trees” tiles, two ‘snow,’ one tba.

Following Tuesday: More layers of underglaze on toadstools, then clear glaze. Bisquing molds. (Finally!) Reassessing, patching and finishing my bird house (!!). Cutting prepped slabs for an 25″ tall garden obelisk.

I will also be working to reestablish my writing schedule, arranging to publish posts a little after midnight. It will take a few days to get back on track and I appreciate your patience… Cheers! — Jan

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