Carrying a Torch?
Using a torch can be scary. There's something about holding a flame–no matter how petite and charming–that is a little unnerving. I've taken three classes that used a torch for a small part of the class. I'm not going to lie and say that I'm perfectly relaxed and comfortable around a torch, but I survived the experience and am working up my courage to learn more. I thought there might be a few of you in the same boat, so I asked bead artist Cassie Dolen (see her beautiful project on the cover of the Summer Preview 2008 issue of Step by Step Wire Jewelry!) to create a video showing a simple technique using a butane torch. Cassie and I discussed several options and decided that making headpins would be a great beginner project. If you make earrings or dangles for any type of jewelry, chances are you're using headpins. Have you ever thought about making your own? You could make them whenever you wanted and whatever length you needed. Sounds tempting, doesn't it?
Cassie begins the video with a discussion about set up, showing you how to load the torch and the basic equipment you need. She shows you step by step how to create a headpin, using two different gauges of wire. In addition to the resources she mentions, you should also check your local shop. You'd be amazed at the variety of resources that shops carry. You also might want to check out "Playing with Fire: Choosing a Butane Mini Torch" by Step by Step Wire Jewelry contributing editor Ronna Sarvas Weltman. This free article on Beading Daily will let you know what to look for in your first torch.
Watch the Video
(If you don't see the video above, you can view it here.)
After you finish the video, I'd recommend that you take a look at Silver Wire Fusing by Liz Jones. This book features large, clear step-by-step photos and instructions for a number of beautiful projects, including a cool coiled ring project that uses a variation of the same basic headpin idea that you just watched in the video. The basic metalsmithing section in the front of the book covers everything from setting up your workspace to practice exercises like how to make basic chain. The author has lots of classroom experience (always a plus) and just like Cassie Donlen, she makes working with a torch seem possible for mere mortals! Purchase the book today.
Michelle Mach shares beading news, contests, reader galleries, and other beady stuff every Monday on Beading Daily. If you have comments or questions for Michelle, please post them on the website.