is one of a series of tips on refractory materials, including
ceramic fiber. Click here to go to a general discussion of
Fiber rope is a refractory material that is
made from ceramic fibers that have been twisted together (or
braided). The rope, which is available in several different
thicknesses and densities, is generally as an insulator or packing
material to line gaskets, kiln doors, or furnaces.
For most kiln-forming applications, fiber
rope tends to be used more for its ability to impart interesting
textures to glass than as an insulating material. The rope is made
from the same kind of material as fiber paper or board, so it can be
slumped over or even used in a casting or fully fused piece.
In some situations glass may stick slightly
to the fiber rope, so it's a good idea to lightly sift over the rope
with alumina or kiln wash powder before using. (You can even
dip into the rope into a liquid solution if desired.)
Hardening with a rigidizer is not necessary.
The rope does contain a small amount of
binder, which will burn off at around 1000F/538C. Generally,
you can get away without pre-firing. The fiber rope will
shrink slightly when fired for the first time.
Also, the ends of the rope will fray after
several firings, and the fiber rope will become slightly brittle
after a while. But it will last a long time (especially if
only heated to slumping temperatures), and is an excellent way to
add an interesting texture to slumped pieces.
Copyright 2006 Brad Walker.
All rights reserved.
One of the major manufacturers
of fiber rope is Unifrax. Their website,
www.unifrax.com, has more
information on different types of fiber ropes, braids, and wicking.