Vitreous enameling is a truly gorgeous way of adding color to metal. See some amazing examples in this past post. This decorative technique is very old and was used by many ancient cultures in the different parts of the world. It is still in use today. Torch firing is often used to fuse the powdered glass the metal at high heat.
Many enamel artists use laboratory tripods to hold the metal during firing as shown in this resource page over on Fire Mountain Gems. This type of setup does strike me as somewhat awkward as one cannot properly aim the "sweet spot" or hottest part of the flame on the underside of the piece.
Barbara Lewis's Craftsy class, Torch-Fired Enameling: The Immersion Method, which I received for review, simplifies the whole process. She eliminates the need for the laboratory tripod and makes it much easier, quicker and safer for beginners and more seasoned artists alike. The immersion method refers to the dipping of the heated metal into a container of powdered glass - so much more straightforward than having to to sprinkle it on the piece.
She calls torch fired enameling painting with fire! Adding glass to metal on both sides also strengthens the metal besides adding beautiful colors.
Barbara is a trained ceramics artist and some years ago, she saw how much torch fired enameling reminded her of her kiln fired pottery. She became interested. And the rest is history.
Her class is divided into 7 lessons with a total run time of 2 hours and about 20 minutes..As with all Craftsy classes, the format is such students can watch the class when and where they want and as many times as necessary to learn a technique. You will be able to ask Barbara any question.
Lesson 1 covers the different types of enamel used and explains their uses. She also talks about the types of metal which can be used including iron which is not a common jewelry metal.
Barbara also demonstrates how she clamps and lights her air-acetylene torch (typically used by plumbers) to the bench. The securing of the torch makes working with the flame much safer as it is stationary and not likely to get knocked over. Both hands are free to do the enameling.
There is also a great photo of her teaching studio at the beginning. It has individual venting tubes at each student station!
There was just one regret about the introduction - I wish Barbara had shown more of her own lovely work as inspirational examples. But you can check out her website here!
Lesson 2 demonstrates her clever immersion method where an iron round bead is heated until red hot and then repeatedly dipped into the enamel powder. This excellent instructor carefully goes over what to do and not to do. She teaches how to blend transparent colors and to make multi colored beads. And also how to get the bead safely off the mandrel!
Lesson 3 continues with the basics where she shows the way to enamel a steel wire coil. This is a demonstration on how to enamel in sections. She also explains very well why and how to do flame annealing. In wire work we apply heat to anneal wire so it becomes softer. But with enameling, flame annealing is used for controlled cooling or heating up so no thermal shock occurs to the glass causing it to crack.
With the basics in hand, Lesson 4 starts the student along the road to really painting with fire as she covers how to enamel copper, the most commonly used metal. The process has a touch of serendipity about it but the results are fabulous! Here is where one gets creative with coarser enamels and enamel threads. Barbara shows how to enamel a copper bead, a disc and how to make little enamel headpins!
Lesson 5 covers the tricky issue of how to enamel brass. Barbara shares her tips and tricks to make it work. This is a useful lesson as this opens up all sorts of possibilities with the innumerable brass stampings out there.
Lesson 6 was my favorite lesson as this covered the creative potential of enameling. Barbara shows how liquid enamel can be used like paint. She also demonstrates the sgraffito technique where the dried liquid enamel is "scratched" away to reveal the bare metal below. When fired, the uncovered copper will turn into lovely colors.
In Lesson 7, Barbara shows how decals can be applied to pre-enameled pieces and how a clear enamel coat can be applied on top for final protection.
The whole class came across as one which makes the enameling process fun and more importantly, doable for the beginner. If you love the look of enameled jewelry, this is a great place to get started. It is not hard at all and requires just a few basic tools.
Barbara's book : Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry: A Workshop in Painting with Fire
If you would like to win Barbara Lewis' class on Torch-Fired Enameling: The Immersion Method please make a comment below. Make sure you leave contact info below if you do not have an online shop or blog.
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It ends in a week's time at 6 pm EST Monday, October 5, 2015 . I will pick the winner randomly and announce the results as soon as possible after. So be sure to leave a contact email if you don't have an online link or make sure you come back and check! Otherwise I will redraw in a week. Good luck!
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Before You Go:
- Resin Clay and Cold Enamel Rings Tutorial
- Faux Stained Glass and Enamel Jewelry using Nail Polish
- How to Make a Faux Dichroic Glass Pendant
Original Post by THE BEADING GEM
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