If you’ve been wondering how to enamel beads without a kiln, experience, or or fear, you are on the right webpage.
Barbara Lewis, author of Torch Fired Enamel Jewelry kindly shares her expertise with How-to-Make-Jewelry.com
The Painting with Fire Technique of Torch Firing Enamel
by Barbara Lewis
I love teaching Painting with Fire (PWF) workshops because I get high off the enthusiasm of my students. Who wouldn’t love to see a stream of happy faces leave a workshop?
Can you imagine enameling 50 beads in an afternoon as a rank beginner? How about enameling a bead in 40 seconds? –No, I’m not crazy.
Learning how to enamel beads is simple and easy to learn. It’s also affordable because there are few tools involved and the ones needed are inexpensive.
Let me walk you through the technique.
How to Enamel A Bead – Instructions
I’m guessing about a minute or two per bead, plus setup and cleanup time… Let’s say an hour or two depending on how many beads you want to do.
- Map gas
- Bead pulling station
- Bread pan
- Steel pan (non-flammable work surface)
- Jar of water
- Iron or copper beads
Step 1: Ready Your Torch:
Before you can learn how to enamel proper, you need to have a source of heat.
The fuel is a 1 lb. canister of map gas. It burns hot and clean and can be found at nearly any hardware store (Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ace, True Value, etc.)
Plumbers commonly use map gas.
In the United States, it costs between $7 and $10 per canister and gives 8 hours of steady firing.
We have all of the tools and several enamels conveniently packaged in a kit for sale at my website, except for the map gas, which you’ll pick up at the hardware store.
Around the gas canister you’ll notice a hose clamp and angle bracket used for clamping the torch to the table, which makes for a very safe firing experience. Make sure that the nozzle of the torch and the angle bracket are facing in the same direction.
Step 2: Set Up the Rest of Your Workstation
The torch is on the left and the patent pending bead pulling station is on the right (that’s the metal contraption with the “v” notch).
If you’re left-handed, reverse everything.
There’s also a non-flammable work surface, a bread pan filled with vermiculite, enamels, beads, a jar of water, and stainless steel rods called “mandrels.”
The vermiculite simply provides a nonflammable cushion onto which we drop the bead.
The water is used to quench the mandrel between beads.
Step 3: Heat the Bead
Here’s the process…
Put an iron or copper bead on the mandrel.
Heat the bead in the flame until it glows orange.
Step 4: Immerse the Red Hot Bead in the Enamel
When it glows orange, immerse the bead in enamel and tap the mandrel on the side of the metal container to remove the excess enamel.
Repeat the heating and dipping process two more times.
Step 5: Drop the Bead Into the Vermiculite
Remove the bead by pulling it off the mandrel at the bead pulling station.
That’s it! There’s no cleaning or pickling of the metal because the heat does that for us.
No Klyr-fire or other fixative is necessary because the enamel immediately begins to fuse to the hot metal when the two come in contact.
We’ve just eliminated two very time-consuming and tedious steps that are necessary in other types of torch firing.
The technique really is as easy as it looks. And you thought learning how to enamel would be hard…
Are you a jewelry artist?
This article is here because Barbara Lewis contacted me and offered me a guest post. If you are an artist I’d love to post one of your projects on How-to-Make-Jewelry.com.
Guest tutorials are a great way to get a valuable backlink to your website, and get the word out about your creations.
It’s no fluke that Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry is the top selling craft book on Amazon.com for 2011. Barbara knows how to get the word out about herself.
If you’d like to submit a guest tutorial too, let me know: Contact me