Wisker, I was thinking that I would discuss annealing some time soon. And I think it would fit in really well, today.
It is important to anneal lampwork beads so that they don't break easily. The process basically "relaxes" the molecules in the glass so that stress is alleviated. When annealing glass it is important to know the best annealing temperature for the glass type you are using. The glass manufacturers will give you that information. For the soft glass that I use, I like to anneal at about 960 degrees.
You will also want to know the approximate temperature of your kiln. Even though digital kilns will state their temperature on their controllers, they may not be exact. Now, I programmed an annealing temperature into my kiln that I always use and it seems to work for me. But if beads are breaking after being annealed, then I suggest you go back and change the annealing temperature and play around with it until you get good beads!
I anneal all of my beads. When I am making a lot of round "spacer" beads I batch anneal them. So that means that I make my beads and cool them down first. Later I place all of those spacer beads, after I removed them from their mandrels, onto a sheet of shelf paper on my kiln shelf and anneal them all at one time. And at the same time those spacer beads are annealing, I can anneal other beads that I am making at the same time, too!!!
I have placed a mandrel holder on my kiln shelf towards the back of my kiln. It is used for beads that I am annealing that are still hot and on their mandrels. So once a bead is taken out of my torch flame, it is immediately placed into the already hot kiln.
I use a kiln that has a bead door in front, there are many different types of kilns available for lampwork.
Remember that if you are batch annealing you must put the beads into the kiln when the kiln is cold. Then ramp up the heat to the correct annealing temperature and hold it there for the proper amount of time. Also don't put HOT beads into a cold or warming up kiln. Make sure that your kiln is already at the annealing temperature before placing hot beads into your kiln.
Once your beads are in the kiln at the annealing temperature (I leave mine in there for at least one hour, and longer if my beads are big), you can do one of two things. You can either turn off the kiln and let it cool down on its own. Or you can pre-set your kiln to ramp down at intervals until finally completely cool. I let my kiln ramp down at intervals if I made larger beads. Typically I let my kiln cool down on its own after turning it off.
I have a kiln that has a lot of pre-set programs in it. That can come in handy but it can also be confusing when setting. I seemed to have lost my manual somewhere. So if you have that problem, go online and look up your kiln model. Most manufacturers have kiln manuals available in PDF format.
Some kilns don't have digital controllers. These kilns can still be used for annealing but I do not have experience doing that. All I know is that those kilns use cones to determine the temperature of the kiln. So just do some experimenting with cones and I think you can properly anneal your beads. One more thing, I think it would be better to use smaller kilns for annealing beads when on a mandrel. I think it wouldn't be practical or easy to use a top loading large kiln with heating coils on the lid to do this because you'd have to reach your hand into an extremely hot kiln! I also like the kilns that run on 110 electricity since it can be plugged into most outlets. 220 kilns can only be plugged into a few outlets in most locations, or a certain outlet has to be wired for it.