The Paragon SC2 kiln is one of the most popular and recommended kilns for using with PMC and other metals clays. When considering the available kilns to offer our customers' we researched various different types, consulting both with the PMC Guild and well respected metal clay tutors. The resounding opinion was that the Paragon SC2 Kiln was the most suitable for hobbyists, jewellery designers and metal clay tutors teaching classes.
The main reasons we think this kiln is an excellent tool addition to your jewellery making workshop are as follows:
On this page we cover everything you need to know about kiln including a look at the programming and the different door and customising options available. We also answer a wide range of questions that we have previously been asked regarding the kiln.
Although we have always had great success using a torch for firing metal clays, there are a number of benefits of using a kiln instead.
|Maximum Temperature||1093 C|
|Size||34 x 33 x 40cm|
|Interior Size||20 x 20 x 14cm|
|Chamber Volume||5.95 litres|
|Shelf kits included||1 x 6cm (1/4") thick plus 3 x 1.6cm round posts|
|Shelf kit capacity||Up to 3 shelf kits|
|Control Type||Sentry Xpress 4.0 Digital 3 Key|
The Paragon SC2 kiln is easy to use and cheap to run and at 34 x 33 x 40cm, it fits into the smallest of workspaces. The inside chamber measures 20 x 20 x 14cm, meaning it is large enough to fire multiple pieces at one time (easily enough space to fire jewellery pieces for a whole class). It is a 1095°C, four-sided, square, ceramic-fibre, front-opening kiln, with an easy-to-use, 3-key digital programmer.
The digital programmer allows you to easily control the temperature, ramping (the rate at which the kiln heats up) and the time the temperature is held. It heats up in approximately 15-20 minutes. The elements are embedded in ceramic fibre and heat the kiln from both sides, minimising the front-to-back temperature difference common with smaller kilns. This makes this kiln excellent for firing PMC, Art Clay, Bronze Clay, Copper Clay, Glass clay, glass-bead annealing, dichroic glasses, enamelling, jewellery, lost-wax casting, low-fire ceramics, glass fusing, and much more.
The Paragon SC2 kiln comes with one solid ceramic shelf and three posts to stand it on, a vent bung, full instructions and is ready to use as soon as you receive it.
There are four door options which we explain below. There is also an extra shelf kit available to buy (C183) which is again a solid ceramic shelf and three posts to stand it on. You can fit up to three shelf kits inside the kiln and having at least one extra shelf kit is really useful.
The Paragon SC2 kiln is available with four different door options, allowing you the choice depending on how you are going to use the kiln. See below for explanations on the benefits of each door type.
Click on any of the images below to view the Paragon SC2 Kiln product page with a door option available to choose from.
Ideal for using with metal clays or for items where you do not really need to check on the progress throughout the firing. If you think that in the future you may like to try other methods like glass fusing or enameling, then we would recommend future proofing your purchase and considering one of the other door options.
Door With Window
This door option has a small 1” x 3” window allowing you to check the progress of your work during the firing. The addition of the window is especially useful for glass fusing and enameling so you can watch every stage of firing to the precise stage you desire.
This door style is ideal if you will be using the kiln for bead annealing or glass fusing and slumping. The door includes a brushed stainless steel mandrel holder so you can anneal glass beads (insert the mandrel into the kiln and the bead door will stays partially open, by the use of a magnet, while the glass anneals).
As you can see from the photos below (of a well used kiln) there is plenty of room inside the chamber of the kiln. You can fit three shelf kits meaning you can easily fire a large number of items at once, or if you are firing larger items you use just one shelf.
The Paragon SC2 kiln is very easy to program. The Sentry Xpress 4.0 digital 3 key controller has just a few simple buttons: one to select a function and one each for increasing and decreasing time, temperature, ramp speed etc.
The kiln comes with full instructions and a specific instruction manual for using the digital controller with a simple quick start guide. We also have a firing guide available, which can be found in the 'Useful Documents' section below so you can set the kiln, put your pieces in, close the door and just press start.
These are the great features of the digital programming:
The standard colour of the kiln is blue, however, we also offer an option to have your kiln custom coloured in either jade, turquoise, pink, purple or berry. If you would like your kiln in a colour other than blue, please be aware that these are made to order could take approximately 4-6 weeks for delivery. The standard blue kilns are usually held in stock and so will be much quicker to arrive with you. Click here to see prices and colours available and to order your kiln.
Below is a list of questions and answers that we have compiled through customer questions and enquiries, we hope they help to answer any questions you may have about the kiln, but if there is anything else you would like to know please feel free to contact us, we would love to hear from you.
How much does the Paragon SC2 it cost to run?
The Paragon SC2 kiln is very economical to run. Depending on your electricity tariff, a half hour firing will cost approximately 13p and a 2-hour firing will cost approximately 33p. Most of your firings will cost less than 50p so if you are firing lots of pieces at one time it will hardly add anything to the cost of each piece.
Is the Paragon SC2 kiln easy to use?
Yes, it is super easy! The programme buttons are really simple (just one button for function and one each for increasing and decreasing time, temperature etc.). It comes with full instructions and we have a firing guide available so you can set the kiln, put your pieces in, close the door and just press start. Plus it remembers the last settings you used, so if you want to use the same settings as last time you can just press start.
What is the best kiln for home use?
The Paragon SC2 kiln is ideal for home use, it will fit into the most compact of workspaces, but still allows you plenty of room to fire multiple items in one go (if you are a jewellery making tutor looking for a kiln suitable for a class of students you will also find it ideal as with room for three shelves inside you can easily fire a whole classes work in one firing).
How big & heavy is the kiln?
The Paragon SC2 kiln is a really compact size and measures 34 x 33 x 40cm; so a similar size to a microwave (though slightly taller and maybe not quite as wide – if that helps to visualise it). The Paragon SC2 Kiln weighs just over 16kg, so it is not too heavy if you need to travel with it for classes. To put that in perspective, most airlines luggage allowance in about 23kg, so whilst it is heavy, it is quite easy for one person to move if needed.
Is it useful to be able to look through a window in the kiln?
If you are firing PMC/ Art Clay Silver or other metal clays, visual inspection of the clay during firing is unnecessary so we would not recommend that you open the kiln and look inside during the firing process. It may be necessary to look inside for a couple of seconds if you are fusing glass or enamelling, but care must always be taken and safety equipment worn such as heat protective safety gloves and safety glasses. (Please note sunglasses aren't suitable for this, you will need specialist dark glasses with UV and ultraviolet protection). If you do need to look into the kiln, the glass window option is useful or you may want to get the kiln with the bead annealing door (or bead annealing door and window combined), which offer a smaller door and/or window to peek in through.
Do I need a bead annealing door or a glass window or would I be ok to just have the basic kiln?
This depends on what you think you would like to do with the kiln. If you are buying the Paragon SC2 kiln solely for metal clays and you are sure you will not want to try any glass work or enamelling, then you just need the basic kiln. If however, you are always looking to try something new or have always wanted to try glass work, you may consider having the kiln with the bead annealing door so you can make glass beads or open the door a crack to check the progress of glass fusing or enamelling.
Do I need any special ventilation?
If you are using the kiln solely for metal clays (such as PMC and Art Clay Silver) you may not need any special ventilation as it should not give off any toxic fumes. If however, you are firing other things which may give off toxic fumes, you will definitely need to ventilate well in case any fumes escape from the chamber. Using anything that reaches a very high temperature can give off a hot smell so you may want to have a window open anyway.
Does the outside of the kiln get hot?
The outside of the kiln only gets warm so it is not possible to burn yourself on it. However, it is good practice not to place anything on top of the kiln in case you forget to remove before setting of the firing programme.
Can I put things on the bottom of the kiln or do I need a shelf?
Always use a shelf in the bottom the Paragon SC2 kiln in case you accidentally spill or melt anything. Your kiln comes with a solid ceramic shelf and three posts to stand it on (by standing the shelf on the posts you get a more uniform heat).
How many shelf kits fit inside the Paragon SC2 kiln?
You can fit up to three shelf kits in the Paragon SC2 kiln. If you are going to be firing lots of items at a time, it is a good idea to buy a couple additional shelf kits at the same time as the kiln, to take advantage of the special offer price.
How long do I fire my PMC for?
This depends on how strong you need the piece to be, check the PMC firing chart to see the different times and heats you can use. A good general rule for firing pieces comprising only of PMC and other metal clays is 900°C (any higher than this and the metal clay begins to distort) for two hours, this will make it strong. If you are including any stones in the piece, a different program is needed. The shortest time and heat that can be used for PMC3 is 10 minutes at 650°C, but firing at a higher temperature for longer will improve the strength.
Can I fire gemstones in the Paragon SC2 Kiln?
Yes, some gemstones can be fired in PMC, Art Clay Silver and other metal clays inside the Paragon SC2 kiln. If you are firing stones into your piece, you will need a lower temperature and slow ramp (heat up speed). We have a stone firing guide to help but remember that natural stones vary by type. If you are making a very precious piece you may wish to run the program with just the gemstones in the kiln to check that they do not change colour or crack before adding them to your piece. We strongly recommend conducting your own experiments before including a stone in your design and also remember that each natural gemstone is unique so any natural inclusions etc could affect it during the firing process. If you have stone setting skills you may prefer to make a setting in the PMC/ Art Clay Silver and set the stone after firing.
Can I use it for enamelling and firing glass?
Yes. The Paragon SC2 kiln can be used for numerous applications such as enamelling, dichroic glasses, glass fusing, Bronze Clay, Copper Clay, Accent Gold, Metal Clay Veneer, china paints, applying decals, lost-wax casting, low-fire ceramics, small-scale glass sagging and slumping and the new Glass clay. Please be aware that different, specialist equipment may be needed for the different applications so check the instruction manual carefully before you try something new.
Is the Paragon SC2 kiln easy to program?
The programme buttons on the Paragon SC2 kiln are really simple (just one button for function and one each for increasing and decreasing time, temperature, ramp speed etc.). It comes with full instructions and we have a firing guide available so you can set the kiln, put your pieces in, close the door and just press start. The digital controller has its own set of instructions too so as long as you go careful and keep double checking (especially the first few times you use it) you will be fine. Don’t forget we can always help you over the phone if you get stuck.
What if I need a replacement part after I’ve had it for a long time?
Replacement parts are readily available for the Paragon SC2 kiln so please contact us if you think you need to replace something. We can put you on to the UK distributor who will be able to supply you with the new part and, if necessary, talk you through the replacement process on the phone.
Does the display show how much longer the kiln will be on for?
Yes. The display alternates between showing the time remaining on the program and the current temperature inside the kiln.
Can I fit a lot of items in at once?
Yes. You can fit a good number of pieces on one shelf and you can buy additional shelf kits so you can stack up shelves with spacers in between which allows the air to circulate and keep an even temperature. For glass work, it is better to let the heat radiate around the kiln so it is better not to stack up too much. The best thing is to carry out your own experiments to find a method which suits your way of working. Three shelf kits will fit into the Paragon SC2 kiln meaning you can maximise use of the space and fire multiple items at once.
Would this kiln be suitable for heavy use (for example for metal clay classes)?
Yes. The Paragon SC2 kilns are an excellent quality and should last you a very long time, provided you follow all the instructions carefully. Lisa Cain, who runs the Mid Cornwall School of Jewellery (and is also the executive director of the UK PMC Guild) uses these kilns in her school and runs them almost every day.
Where should I keep my kiln?
Your kiln should be kept in a well ventilated, covered and protected area such as the garage, utility or hobby room. Many people keep their kiln on a small steel cart with casters so it can be moved to different locations, depending on your ventilating requirements. This way the kiln can be wheeled near a window or even outside. Make sure there are no flammable liquids or materials in the kiln room and keep it at least 30cm (12”) from any walls. Obviously keep it away from any curtains or other combustibles and on a level, fireproof surface such as sheet metal or ceramic.
How would I support different shaped pieces?
There are several different ways you can support PMC/ Art Clay Silver and other metal clays during firing; fibre blankets are available which can be folded or draped to support pieces and there is also a powder available called alumina hydrate but this can be messy and difficult to gather up between firings Small pieces can be supported using vermiculite which is readily available and, as the grains are larger, easier to gather up between firings. All these options are reusable.
I don’t have a workshop – could I use it in my house?
Yes, as long as it is positioned in a well-ventilated area and away from flammable materials and at least 30cm (12”) away from any walls. Bear in mind, however, that this includes curtains and soft furnishings so if you do use it in the house, maybe the utility room or kitchen would be the best place and as long as the surface is fire-proof. The Paragon SC2 kiln has a regular plug so can be plugged into a normal socket.
Do I need any extra safety equipment?
If you are firing just metal clays and you are putting items into and removing them from a cold kiln then you do not need any extra safety equipment apart from the expected insulated gloves and safety glasses. However, if you are trying other techniques using the kiln, extra safety equipment may be needed (this is detailed in the instruction manual).
Does the door lock when the kiln is mid program?
No. It is necessary for some applications to be able to open the door mid-program so it does not lock. We would not recommend you open the door when firing only PMC/ Art Clay Silver and other metal clays.
Do I need to clean the kiln and, if so, how do I do it?
Sometimes it may be necessary to clean the kiln out to prevent contamination (this is especially relevant if you are doing glass work). This can be done by taking the whole kiln outside and brushing any debris from the interior using a soft brush (we would recommend you wear a mask when you do this because of the risk of inhaling very fine dust particles) or by using the nozzle attachment on your vacuum cleaner to clean the kiln out where it stands.
Does the kiln make any noise during firing programmes?
The Paragon SC2 kiln is very quiet whilst it is running. When it reaches the destination temperature, you will start to hear a periodic “clicking” sound. This is the sound it makes when the thermocouple starts to turn the heating elements on and off, in order to maintain the desired temperature. You will also notice that when the clicking noise starts, the temperature on the display goes up and down by a few degrees at a time.
Do I have to wait for the kiln to become hot before I put my pieces in?
No. Always put the shelf and the PMC/ Art Clay Silver and other metal clay pieces in when the kiln is cold and then start the programme.
Is it possible for my pieces to melt in the kiln?
The melting point for PMC silver is 960°C so as long as the kiln does not reach this temperature, your piece will not melt. We would recommend 900°C as the maximum firing temperature for firing PMC and other metal clays.
I have heard of a kit which you can use to fire pieces within your microwave. As this is a lot cheaper, is this a good way to fire my metal clay?
Tim McCreight (who is considered an expert on using metal clays) says, "One immediate problem is it is very difficult to know how long to run it. If you consider that most microwave popcorn packages say something like "Heat for one to six minutes, depending on your microwave," you get an idea of how different the units can be. If you are making a dozen identical pieces, and don't mind melting or under firing the first ten, you can determine the proper time for that unique shape and get those last two right. Not an ideal arrangement." Also, consider that we would not recommend that you use the microwave oven for cooking food after using it for firing metal clays.
Do I need the extra shelf kit which you sell separately?
As with the door options, you need to think about what you intend to do later. If you will be firing multiple metal clay pieces at one time you may want one or two of the extra shelf kits to enable a stack of two or three firing surfaces. It's also a good idea to have an extra shelf just in case you break one. Although they look tough, they can break easily when dropped so do bear this in mind.
Can you fire porcelain in the Paragon SC2 Kiln?
The kiln reaches a maximum temperature of 1093C, so whilst you can fire low-fire ceramics and china paints it will not reach the high temperatures needed for porcelain.
Do I need gloves to take items out of the kiln?
You won't really need gloves to use with your kiln unless you are doing enamelling. When using PMC you put the pieces into the cold kiln and then let the kiln cool down before removing. If you are firing gemstones in metal clay it is important to let them cool thoroughly before removing but if it is just metal you could carefully remove whilst they are still warm, the temperature inside the kiln will be displayed on the digital display on the front so you can check it is not too hot. You will find a pair of insulated reverse action tweezers useful and a heatproof surface outside the kiln to rest your designs on (a soldering block would be ideal).
If you have any further questions, feel free to call our friendly team who will be more than happy to give you some advice through Facebook, Twitter, Email or simply calling us on 01872 573888 8.30am-4.30pm.
Alternatively, for more information and how to's on all areas of jewellery making visit our other Gemstone Setting Advice pages.