I have been wanting to learn how to do torch enameling for a long time, and luckily for me, working on a project for the upcoming issue of Handcrafted Jewelry was the perfect excuse to try it out!
Note: Do not attempt enameling unless you have the proper tools and preparation. This post is an account of my first adventures with enameling, not a lesson in it. If you are interested in learning more about torch enameling, I would recommend visiting www.paintingwithfireartwear.com.
Honestly, I was a little nervous to light that torch up for the first time. The combination of my clutziness (seriously--I have yet to meet a sliding glass door that I have not tried to walk through) and an open flame did not seem like a good idea. My roommates were convinced that I was going to burn our house down, and I was convinced I was going to lose at least one eyebrow. Miraculously, I emerged from the experience with life and limbs (and eyebrows!) intact.
My enameling work station: most of what you see here was generously donated by Barbara Lewis at Painting with Fire Artwear. She has an online eCourse going on right now that is really superb when it comes to learning everything about torch enameling, from the basics of setting up your work station to pro tips and tricks. I would encourage any prospective enamelers to inquire about her plans for future eCourses.
|Above: torch (with canister of map gas), pot of pink enamel, water jar, bead-pulling plate and tin of vermiculite to catch the warm beads, mandrel, washers and filigree beads for experimenting.
It seems to me like there is a definite learning curve with torch enameling. It was tricky at first, since I wasn't sure what to expect, but once I got the hang of how the beads feel on the mandrel and how the metal and enamel interact with the flame, I started having a lot of fun with it! I still have some experimenting to do before I really get the technique down, but I can't wait to get back to torching!
|Heating a filigree bead on a mandrel. Note the super-cool goggles and gloves--safety first!
Have you experimented with enameling yet? Do you have an helpful tips and tricks? I'm already hooked on the torch, but I still need all the help I can get!