Tuesday, May 22, 2012

More torch work

I had a pretty good day at the torch on Sunday - I was able to learn quite a bit about the process by repetitively firing the same bead type over and over with different colors, and then switching to a different bead type, and going through the same colors again. It was a very methodical, logical approach, which is definitely my wheelhouse!

I certainly still had some bad outcomes - one pretty pink bead, out of all the pink ones I did, peeled. And a few of the large peacock beads need to be re-fired, as I somehow didn't get a complete firing, and they stopped at the "orange-peel" stage.

The larger beads (and pendants) are much harder to do, because the process requires that you get the entire piece uniformly, glowing-orange hot before immersing it in the enamel, or else the enamel won't take. And with the large beads, it is very hard to get the whole bead hot at one time! In addition to some of them not firing completely, I have a few that didn't get much enamel coverage on their tops - the part of the bead furthest from the tip of the mandrel. That's the part of the bead that enters the enamel last, and it has had the most time to cool during the quick transit from the flame to the enamel, and is no longer hot enough to grab the enamel. I need to work on this.

I actually sustained a very small, maybe 1mm second degree burn to the very tip of my right index finger on Sunday - I was trying to solve this big bead problem by choking up on the mandrel before shoving it into the enamel. The mandrels are stainless steel, so there is virtually no heat conduction - but the part of the mandrel that goes in the flame DOES get hot (duh) - and I miscalculated how much I was choking up on the mandrel, and my index finger touched the mandrel where it had been heated. Ooops!

Here are my beads from Sunday:

These are some filigree butterflies:

These are also a challenge to get uniformly hot - you can see that the 2 butterflies at the top of the pic have taken up enamel in their centers, but not at the tips of the wings. I could go back and do each wing tip separately, but I have to be careful not to over-fire them, or they will just turn black. The hole in the center of the butterfly is so large that it spins on the mandrel when it is heated, making it harder to control where the heat goes!

The butterfly at the bottom patinated in the heat of the flame, and I liked the colors, so I just left it. Now that it has cooled, and I have re-examined it, I can see the color isn't uniform, so I'll do it over the next time I fire beads. I am going to experiment with heat patinating some of the larger beads, too - I like the results so far!

I'm feeling a lot more confident about the torch fired enamel now - looking forward to the next time I have a free day to play with it!

1 comment:

Maggie said...

I love when I see the word "torch" in your title. You bring me to a new respect of those who work with enamels. Your beads look great and with all the experimenting you are doing and learning along the way, you'll be a pro in no time.