Tuesday, October 12, 2010

How do you torch-fire anyhow?

Workshop at Morean Arts Center, St. Petersburg, FL

In the Spring, Editor Danielle Fox asked if I would submit a project to Interweave's Handcrafted Jewelry magazine.  The focus of this magazine is on mixed-media jewelry for artists who create without defining their work by a single medium. Here are just a few of the photos you'll find inside that share the torch-firing process. It's the Painting with Fire Method, where the flame, the metal, and the artist unite to create a unique work.  You can strive for continuity in a series, such as a set of beads, but with a little more heat or a little less air ... each piece can be totally unique.  

For the "whole story," pick up a copy of Handcrafted Jewelry, where you'll find more about the PWF method and other articles by some of the greats in jewelry making, like Deryn Mentock, Sherry Haab (who share the cover with me) and many more ... 

Let's get started! 
Step 1:  Place the bead on a skinny mandrel.  A mandrel is a stainless steel rod ... it's what lampworkers use. In fact, this technique is one that lampworkers can easily embrace in their work flow without a hiccup.  Because stainless steel does not conduct heat, the mandrel will stay cool in your hand. Heat the bead in the flame until it glows. 

Step 2:   Dip the bead into a container of enamel.  The heat acts like glue.  There is no need for sifting. No masks are required because there are no airborne enamel particles.  No special eyewear either.  

Step 3: Bring the bead back into the heat. Reheat, dip. Reheat, dip.  Remove at the bead pulling station.  The bead pulling station, designed by Joseph Spencer, is the brains of the operation.  It allows you to quickly and safely remove hot beads from the mandrel without ever getting your fingers near them. The torch is clamped to the table ... there is no torch waving in this method.  Simple!

What you get are beauties like these!  

So, did I hear you say, "Okay, I'm ready to get started.  I wanna make my own beads ... just like those."  For less than $100 you can have everything you need, including some enamel. You'll find everything at my website.   I also offer continued moral and technical support at the Painting with Fire ning.  Still hesitating?  Just join the ning and check things out, learn how to create enamel head pins, see the beautiful work of others who never took a workshop but learned from the tutorial.
I hope to meet you there!  Barbara


Artisan Beads Plus said...

WOW! I didn't realize it was that simple! You just gave the expression...."Simple as 1-2-3" a whole new meaning! I'm going to try those right after I take my metal clay class coming up soon! I am excited about mixing different mediums in my jewelry designs.....Awesome :O)

Barbara Lewis said...

Mary Ann, It IS that simple!

SummersStudio said...

Barbara, you make it sound and look so simple. I regularly heat metals to red hot for soldering and fusing. Is it really, really that simple? I know there are other artistic considerations like layered enamel effects, but really is the basic that simple? I've repeated myself! I love fire. I may need to try this.

Judy said...

Barbara, you make it sound so easy! This may be a great winter project for me.

TesoriTrovati said...

Seriously? That is it? Oh yeah... you are totally changing my ideas about flame.... now to convince hubby to set me up with a torch like that in my studio.

You continue to change my mind every single day ;-)

Enjoy the day!

mairedodd said...

i looove being able to torch fire - it is one of the most treasured techniques i have in my arsenal - and i couldn't have learned it from a more wonderful person... cannot wait to take a 'live' class... just think what's going to happen when the book comes out!

Unknown said...

You make it look so easy Barbara...Can't wait to see your book!

KristiBowmanDesign said...

So cool Barbara, I can't wait to give this a try!!!

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