Wow! I was so excited to get my copy of Barbara's new book on torch fired enamels. I've played with enamels before but never felt like I had mastered the technique. I learned some great techniques that have helped me with other things I was working on also. Be sure to read to the bottom for the blog tour prize!
At first I had some difficulty with the technique, but I went back to the book and really read it--I have a tendency to look at the pictures and then jump into things. I started with large items and did much better when I dialed it down and did some small gears and parts that let me get the gist of it all.
This technique works great and I love it especially for the small things. I did transfer the technique to my "regular" torch fired large pieces and found that heating them first then adding the enamel works great.
For this challenge, I did a series of enameled hearts. I love the rustic look of the edges and paired them with steel chain and fibers to echo the strength. The hearts are about 31/2 inches long and bold. On this one, I hammered a nail through the back for some very raw holes. I like the way the edges look burned and rusted out--yes that's on purpose.
I was delighted to find that my brass numbers would take the enamel also and just screwed this one on with a tiny little nut and screw. If you try to rivet on enamel you will chip it, so nuts and screws work great! The "7" isn't enameled but heated to darken the brass. Wouldn't have looked cute in a bright yellow or lime green?
Then I tried punching holes first with a disc cutter to get a variety of sizes. The brass wings are colored with gilder's paste in silver and patina color. I like the wings to be a bit different so I didn't enamel them so they had a different texture.here. Again I used tiny nuts and screws to attach and they can be moved slightly when you wear it so you can make it lay how you like.
Here are two that I had problems with....I "over torched" them and made the enamel bubble in the bottom one and in the top one I ended up with a muddy mess. I found out afterward that the reds and oranges are harder to work with--figures that is what I would start with!
Then I moved on from hearts and did some pods....I just cut a leaf shape out of copper sheet metal with a pair of metal shears and used my pliers and hammer to shape them. I punched a hole before enameling and used a sprinkle of several colors to get the mottled look. These are strung on fibers with some recycled glass rings to repeat the shine and texture of the enamel. Very easy and fun!
So now I was on a roll and wanted to enamel anything that could take the heat! I made some fast earrings from some brass filigree drops--I got too much enamel on them, so go easy on the filigree. Then I pulled out some copper birds and dapped them slightly before enameling them. I have to say they look much better in person...
Of course I couldn't resist dipping copper gears in the colors. I like them dipped half way so they look kind of worn. The lovely chain with this piece is coming to Objects and Elements.com soon..I get to play with the new products first--love it!
I had this copper "5" on my workbench and love the crusty burnt edge look I got. I needed some color on the leather cord so I got out the copper tubing and cut it down and enameled it too!
If you don't want to make every component we also carry a lot of basic enameled pieces on our website--a fast way to get color!
I made this copper butterfly piece too but I think I had too many layers of enamel...it's so fun to dredge is through the enamel it's hard to stop. I like the stencil technique so I wanted to show it to you. I just took a metal stencil and laid it over the warm enamel piece and sprinkled on yellow enamel. I put it on a tripod and screen and heated it from underneath so I would blow away the enamel.
My best tip? learning to heat any metal before you put enamel on it regardless of the technique use and I found that my little silicone prep bowls were perfect to use. I poured the enamel in them and then easily squeeze them to pour it back into the jar. They are good to a very high temp so you can't melt them. I use them in the studio to dump tiny parts into so I can pour them back into a container, they are just handy!
Other things I learned...Warm metal works well with enamel. Now I heat my pieces first no matter what process I'm using. I had great luck with the brass pieces I had around but Barbara has warned me that not all brass works, it depends on the zinc content in it. You just have to try it to see.
In my next blog I'll show you step by step how I put together the flying heart piece....if you leave a comment we will draw a name and send the winner the earrings shown above and some copper shapes like the gears, butterfly, letters and other shapes that I used here so you can try it for yourself!
Thanks Barbara for including me in this tour, I had a great time learning a new technique and love adding color in my work.
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