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Kiln Tetris

In this post we'll try to explain our way to fighting one of the common studio challenges - arranging the glazed beads, pendants, etc, in the kiln, in the most effective and safe way.
Let me start from the beginning - as boy, in the middle of the '80's, I was totally addicted to computer games, especially to Tetris (everybody remembers it, I hope :-). Later I played a lot of the 3D version of it called Blockout . It looks to me now that the hundreds of hours spent playing those games was not that useless - I think there are a lot of similarities between the challenge in the games and the glaze kiln arranging.                                                                                                                
Here you can see some of the shapes that I'm planning to put in the kiln. 

This is the current equipment that we are using. Here you can see tutorial about the "Bead Box". The wires that you see in front are Kanthal A1 wire. Each piece is 85mm long, 2.5 mm thick. This is the size that with many trials and errors we figured to be the best compromise between length and thickness for our work.

How our bead boxes work- here you see sample how we arrange the lentil beads. This shape is very popular right now, but it's a real space hog compared to the other beads. On the left, you see the first row of lentils.

 This is the second row, 8 more lentils are in the box.

That's the top row, 10 more lentils, so we ended with a total of 26 lentils in this box. Each lentil is just a bit under 1 inch diameter.

Side view of a Bead Box loaded with same size lentils. You can see the hole configuration that works best for this size and shape.

Now something different - pendants and beads arranged in 1 box. Here you can see 9 pendants already put in the box.

Top view of same ones, you can see the space between the pendants. Are you wondering what those odd shape bits glued on the left and right side of the box are? Keep reading for the answer.

The top row - 7 wires, 4 round beads each. Important detail - it's good idea to glue the wires on the top, this way when  moving the boxes to the kiln you're sure that  they won't move. You can use whatever kind of glue, just be sure that it burns without leaving any leftovers.

OK, the boxes are loaded, let start putting them in the kiln. In this firing I'll put total of 9 boxes in the kiln. Here you can see the first floor - 6 boxes. 3 of them are with attached small bits on the sides, so I'll be able to put on the top of them 3 more boxes. Do you see the pendants hanging between the boxes?
Here is the second floor, the 3 boxes on the top of the first ones. It looks to me like pretty good quantity of beads and pendants in just 1 firing, in not too big kiln. What you think?

With this post we are closing the circle about our studio experience as ceramic bead artists - First we started with post about why we make beads, then there was post about how we shape our beads, later post about our favorite carving techniques, then post about how we are glazing our work, and now about the firing.
We'll be happy if you give us some ideas about what you want to see in the next posts, questions and requests are warmly welcome!

Have a great summer!
Golem Studio's team


  1. Oh - I SO get that kiln Tetris! I love to see you using the bead box. I think I've stayed away from making "beads" because I can't get them loaded in the kiln efficiently enough (you've seen my pictures from my pendant loads right?). How about some studio and life shots from your part of the world? I think it is so interesting to see how we all get our supplies and what our lives are like. Great post!!!

  2. Wonderful post!! So interesting to see how you load your kiln. So efficient!! I too would love some posts about you part of the world. What is the ceramic bead scene like there. Thanks so much for sharing so much of your bead making process with us.

  3. I love your organization and the sleek use of those boxes! Tetris is a great comparison!

  4. those bead boxes are AWESOME! that is such an efficient use of space...love it. thanks for posting!

  5. Ha ha ha... I am still laughing at the thought of me loading my kiln that way!

    Your awesome VLAD!!!!!!

  6. And you told me you needed a rubber kiln to squeeze more in. Looks to me like you have room for at least 3 more boxes. Wasting space, wasting space.... lol...

    Boxes are the best really you can set them up without standing on your head in the kiln. You just glue the beads to the wires and the wires to the box and you can move them easily without things sliding around. Just plop them in the kiln and off you go. Much easier than the awkward bead trees.

  7. Great blog post. A question on the boxes, mainly because I'm new to using clay. It doesn't tell you to fire the boxes. Would that be the last step after you make them, put the holes in the side and then fire the boxes before you use them?

  8. Great post Vlad! and oh goodness you are organized and even made it look pretty, love it! Thanks for the look into your process. And yep.... Tetris lover here.

  9. Thank you for the nice comments everybody!
    Deb, you are right - it's good idea to fire the new boxes empty, just 1 time before the start of the actual use of them.

  10. I do not work with clay, but I found it so interesting to read the back-story of how the clay beads and pendants I love to use, get made. Thank you for sharing!


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