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  • In-Depth Glass Hive Customer Review: Custom Kiln

    So, I was on the market for a new oven early this year, I was really interested in picking up a Skutt Mini or Micro (which had not been released but were being shown off at the glass conventions by Marcel at the time). In the meantime I was doing other kiln research and wanted to get a quote from The Glass Hive. The Glass Hive will build a custom kiln to your specifications for pretty reasonable price.

    When I first messaged them (on Facebook) I basically told them I was looking for a personal sized kiln like the dimensions around 9x9x9 (or other similar personal sized kiln dimensions) that was digital, and I really wanted a nice adjustable rod rest (after playing with the ones on the Skutts it was a must, right?). The next day I received my quote from Pam;

    12 wide, 9 tall, 9 deep, diamond plate, Gull door with two punti doors and Fuji Controller $950
    Adjustable tube rest $150
    Shipping $65
    Frame color choice- free

    Pretty good breakdown, hard to argue with the shipping price and free color choice (I chose black). Also Pam mentioned the dimensions, specifically the width, would be better off at 12" because the cost difference between 9" width and 12" width is minuscule if any difference at all.

    Wait time was approximately 4 weeks, but they let me know that they do not sacrifice quality for speed, which is ideal.

    A week or so after receiving the quote I decided to go through with it and send the payment to begin my custom build (or at least get me on the list) on October 20th. The invoice also estimated 3-4 week approximate build time.

    Fast forward 3 weeks: nothing from the glass hive yet, so I email requesting an update. I am informed that Mike is starting to work on my kiln that day (a friday) and hoping to ship out later the next week.

    Part 1: The List

    Fast forward to week 4 (sunday nov 18): I asked how their week went as far as building. I received a nice detailed update that the gull door was being built and that the frame was assembled and they were working on the controller at that time and that a target ship date would be that week (week of the 19th).

    At this point I assumed It wasn't being shipped til after Thanksgiving's the holiday. So the following monday (november 26th) I requested another update and hoping they had a great Thanksgiving.

    The update stated that he was balancing the gull door and once that done all that is left to do is painting it, waiting for the paint to set and shipping it out. They said it would be coming home that week. I emailed them the monday after the weekend of the week they said it would be shipped during, they mentioned that the paint took over the weekend to set due to it being overly moist in oregon at the time as well as apologizing for the wait and thanking me for being patient.

    December 6th I got my tracking number and it arrived on December 10th.

    Part 2: The Oven

    First off a breakdown of the cost of the kiln and its features again:

    12 wide, 9 tall, 9 deep, diamond plate, Gull door with two punti doors and Fuji Controller $950
    Adjustable tube rest $150
    Shipping $65
    Frame color choice- free

    Here are some pics of pretty much everything I could think of at the time that everyone might want to see:

    The kiln so far is fantastic and have had very little issues adjusting to it.

    Moving it onto the bench was simple with 2 people (we are both weaklings though) even at 120+lbs. The little legs it stands on giving u a good place to grab and hold it along with the kilns overall weight distribution makes moving it from bench to bench not nearly as daunting of a task.

    The Gull door works as well as any other and is also more low profile then most other designs that I have seen. When initially heating up with 1 punti door locked open into position it heats up to 1050* in about 20 minutes, faster then my previous aim and paragons. The punti doors are about 2" thick of kiln brick and when working are meant to be open pretty much at all times (kind of easier to see in the pictures)

    The adjustable rod and tube rest is great as well it makes working with your kiln effortless (however i might make some slight tweaks in the future). It moves toward and away from the kiln and the bar where the tubes rest can be adjusted higher or lower. After a day of working with it i decided to move it to another place in the studio and I also figured out (whether intentional or not) that you can retract the tray the entire way so its right up against the doors for when you move it, it locks all the doors together tightly so there wont be any shifting.

    I have to say though, the biggest question mark moment of owning this kiln was learning how to operate the Fuji controller (which I have not done, the only digital controlled kilns I have owned and worked often are paragons). The Glass Hive was nice enough to program 2 cycles for me as well as send detailed instructions on exactly how to use it and a note at the bottom to just call and they will talk me through programming it in the future. But after I figured most of the ins and outs it by far seems the more accurate then the paragon sentry controllers i have used (that slump blow tubes at annealing temp?)

    In addition to the kiln I also received a fiber blanket for the floor of my kiln, mounting screws for the digital controller and a set of instructions labeled "First Things First". The instructions start off telling me exactly what I need to know about the kiln in the order I need to know about it in...where the parts in the box are, what parts to put on first, make sure the thermocouple is placed properly. The instructions also include the Fuji programming guide as mentioned above. Overall a very helpful packet to go with the oven.

    The Bottom Line:
    Overall my experience with The Glass Hive has been great. Working with Mike and Pam has been refreshing compared to what I have come to expect with most kiln manufacturers (not bashing others, The Glass Hive was just noticeably more pleasant). The biggest criticism would be there inaccurate wait time. It took about 7 weeks total, as opposed to the original 3-4 it stated on the invoice. No bother, I have GTT's, Iv had them repaired before too, and lets face it there isn't many big ticket items we can buy off-the rack and the wait proved well worth it. If you are on the market for a new kiln I suggest The Glass Hive for excellent quality and service. This is my first review, and i realized it's rather long winded but I hope that it is helpful. If you have any questions, ask away. And if anyone wants any specific pictures let me know and I will snap them.

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