Monday, July 20, 2009

Copper enameling with torch-fire

So you like to try your hands in enameling but don’t have a kiln? Lets start torch enameling!

Easy to setup, fairly inexpensive and so much fun!

Before I got my own kiln, my only access to kiln was when I go to my enameling class. It’s only once a week and as I start to get more orders, I start to needing to work more than once (three hours) a week. But kiln is large investment & very intimidating… so I start to enamel with torch.

But I must say, if you want to work with large pieces, torch enameling probably wouldn’t work. Maybe you can do special setup but in my experience 1’ and under works the best.
Setup
I put Cement backer board on kitchen counter. On the cement backer board, I put tripod, square mesh firing screen.

Torch
I use “MAP GASS”. I was told that “MAP GASS” gets hot and burn cleaner. Others would work too but I never tried before.

I’ll skip preparing metal and shift enamel, as they are already excellent tuto out there.

Firing
I always fire form underneath. Light the torch and open the nozzle all the way to get highest heat. Then move the flame underneath of the piece and heat metal’s edge in circular motion. You’ll see the metal slowly heats up. When they get red the enamel start to melt. Most nice thing about torch enameling is you can see the process of how enamel melts, flow and fuse. So you can stop when they get to your desire stage. How long to fire the piece is depending on the color.

Here is my tip for firing different colors
For opaque colors, never put direct heat! It will turn gray. There for you’ll always counter first with selecting dark color as your counter enamel. Reds are easy to burn. So don’t fire too long not less you want “burnt” look.


For transparent colors, I usually fire golden clear as base. Golden clear gets clearer as you fire longer. So when I see the enamel melts, I start counting 25 or so. About this time golden clear will become nice and clear. If you fire too long it gets greenish. Then fire counter enamel with golden clear side facing down. After golden clear and counter, you can fire any colors you wish on the golden clear.

Opaque colors on the golden clear would get you interesting result too. Play around and see what comes up!

*Fire in the open & well ventilated area*
*Wear protective eve glasses*
*Be careful handling the pieces & trivets, they are HOT!*

ok, I can’t think of anything else right now. If you have any question please leave a comment!

Happy enameling:)

17 comments:

mtoma2az said...

Wonderful tutorial!
I just took my first torch-firing class last week, at ArtUnraveled in Phoenix.
It was lots of fun!
Made a link bracelet, and a leaf-motif necklace.

katie said...

do you use any type of agent to make the enamel stick? I got all my supplies and I'm going to give it a try!! I'm super excited about it!!!

jewelrybynatsuko said...

Hi there!

mtoma2az, that's so exciting! it's so nice to be able to take a class isn't it? I'm taking metalsmith class right now & love it!

katie, I use klear fire (not sure about spelling... you can get at thompsonenamel.com) put in the spray bottle and dilute with distilled water (about 50-50) and spray on the metal.

hope you guys are having fun exproreing enamel world!!

Lola's Jewels said...

Great post! Thanks for sharing! I am just trying this. hoping I get better. :)

Raven Stephenson said...

I would like to know what type of torch you use and where to get one.

Jewelry by Natsuko said...

thank you, thank you!

re; Raven Stephenson, I use "mapp gas" and you can get at home improvement stores like Lowes.

Happy Enameling!!

kalyxcorn said...

hi I was wondering how clear the transparent enamels turn out when torch firing. have u had any experience with that? :)

Jewelry by Natsuko said...

Hi kalyxcorn:) thank you so much for leaving the comment! in my experience, it would turn about same, torch fire or kiln fire. to me, key to get nice transparent colors are always fire golden clear as a base! and I always torch fire golden clear because I can make sure that gets golden clear. so, for any transparent colors, golden clear > counter enamel > transparent colors. Happy Enameling:)

haezz said...

Hello Natsuko, I really appreciated this tutorial. I've been thinking of more and more to learn enameling. I was wondering where you take your classes? I, also, live in Columbus Ohio, and would appreciate any information you have to offer about classes in our area.

thanks a lot, mary t.

Jewelry by Natsuko said...

Hi haezz:) thank you so much for leaving a comment and I'm glad this gave you a little help:) I did take enameling classes at Columbus Cultural Art Center http://www.culturalartscenteronline.org/ for years. they have excellent classes though it's not torch-fire but I'm sure you'd love it! Happy Enameling:)

handstrung.com said...

Just did my first piece in my metal smithing class today and think I am addicted to this process. Your post was very helpful and look forward to creating more elements utilizing enameling. I have a butane torch and will try this, although it appears that they are not hot enough. Thanks for all your tips. Cant wait to do more.

Jewelry by Natsuko said...

Hi:) that's so great, handstrung! I bet you'll be hooked! I never try butane torch but I think if the fire doesn't get too hot it's just gonna take longer time and it just have to be very small piece? good luck & let me know how it goes! Happy Enameling:)

decomama said...

Hello Natsuko, I love torch firing and use only Mapp Gas, my question is your torch and hose....is the one you use only for Mapp or will a Propane one work?

Jewelry by Natsuko said...

Hi decomama:) the hose I have came with mapp gas but it works on the propane. so I'm sure propane one works on the mapp gas! happy enameling:) Natsuko

Divya N said...

great tutorial will share it with my metalsmithing facebook group

Deb Z said...

what type of torch and hose is that? It looks like there is a bike handle on the torch?

Jewelry by Natsuko said...

Hi Deb:) it's this attachment to go on the map gas; http://www.lowes.com/pd_164336-13877-BZ8250HT_4294772357__?productId=50126411&Ns=p_product_qty_sales_dollar|1&pl=1&currentURL=%3FNs%3Dp_product_qty_sales_dollar%7C1&facetInfo=
you can do without it though. it;s just makes torching easier!