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enameled copper jewelry


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Enamel surfaces – what fun things can you melt with a torch

torch fired enamel jewelry with melted wire

Melting stuff is always fun – right? Not to talk about playing with fire. I’ve been experimenting with various substances you can melt on your enamel surface. So far I’ve tried wire, mashed up glass, enamel sticks, other bead chips. Not sure where the limits might go, but it sure creates some interesting effects!

torch fired enamel jewelry with melted wire

Wire sprinkles on this enameled piece with transparent green enamel

Of course it can be a bit tricky to get these things stick while you have a torch going and one hand is busy holding your steel rod (where your copper piece is dangling). The power from the torch is like a wind that makes your piece move constantly so getting something on top of it can be challenging. The mashed up glass you can sprinkle on, with copper tube you can roll the hot tube in it, which is great. I think the hardest to get the way you want them is shapes of wire, they go and blow away real easy in the “wind” of the torch. Also, your piece you are trying to adhere it to is often curved and the wire will just slide of. So, yes, it’s a balancing act, luckily no acrobatics involved!

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Melted thin enamel stick

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Smashed up glass beads, use that hammer!

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Smashed up glass in very small bits with transparent enamel on top.

torch fired enamel jewelry

Sometimes you may get an eye…

 

I find that my favorites are the wire coils and smashed up glass (they call it frit if you go buy it in the enameling universe).  I imagine you can buy some really nice even shaped frit, but I find that I like my own smashed up stuff better. It gets more interesting and doesn’t always work (which is part of the fun). Some glass bead chips don’t melt, or you might have smashed something that is not exactly glass. Also, using transparent enamel can make it even more interesting because of the see through effect, and you can keep layering it on. The copper wire I use gives out a nice smoke when it gets torched and you can end up creating some nice flame patina on it, too. It is the hardest to make stick, your copper piece has to be hot enough and your arm very steady. Plus you want just enough enamel to adhere it properly but still keep the surface texture.

I will keep experimenting, no two pieces are never alike. That’s the best fun of using the torch!
You can find more items on my website: www.evadesigns.us

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torch fired enameled copper by evadesigns - evädesigns


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Torch Fired Enamel Fun

torch fired enamel copper by evadesignsThe darn winter here in Maine took me out of commission for a bit from enameling, hammering and all the fun! Yes, too much shoveling wears out your arm. Anyway, I finally got it back enough to be able to do some copper work. I can’t wait!

I was super happy of my results. I think I have discovered a bit more technique, and acquired a bit more courage to try my own things. I am really into this melting copper wire on the enamel right now, you can get some really interesting results (or, a total failure is possible, too…) I’ve tried different swirls and even  what I call “metal rain” – just cut a lot of little pieces and sprinkle!
torch enameled copper by evadesigns - jewelry, enameled earrings

And yes, then there are the poppies, I have become a poppy maniac. I quite weirdly got the inspiration on this color scheme of blue and turquoise by looking at a bunch of laundry…crazy, right? The laundry was sitting on the floor and it was a shirt and a fleece coat and the color combination was just marvelous. “That would look great in enamel” and there I go.  You can get inspiration everywhere – even in your laundry! This poppy color is quite awesome, I am so excited about it. I really hope I can make somebody else as excited about it as well! It certainly catches the eye. I will be making many and many of these.
I have tried to master this “two prong” technique, since I’m drilling two holes in my poppies. So far, better that I expected. I haven’t dropped or anything. It does take some more torch firing enamel on copper by evadesigns torch firing copper poppy by evadesignsconcentration and a bit of planning, and your enamel needs to be deep enough so you can dip the two prong into it. This reminds me that I do need to get some more metal containers for my enamels that are deep and rather narrow. It just works better.

Hope you can experiment, too. There is an endless learning curve with this stuff and that does keep it interesting, I’m hoping forever!pper by evadesigns - jewelry, enameled pendant poppy

 

 

 

 

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torch enameling evadesigns maine


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Three Stages of Copper

torch enameling evadesigns maine

Heating the copper with a torch using a trivet.

When I make enameled copper jewelry for some reason I always count three stages. (Well, there are really many more to the whole process.) You have a copper sheet that you cut your shapes from – file, shape, hammer, drill, sand, polish. I say you are now at stage one. Then you get all your enamels ready, your frit (I call frit any type of pieces of glass you  may add to your enamel pieces), you set up your torch and workspace (sifters to sift various amounts of enamel onto your pieces, holding agent, trivets, surfaces, tools.)

copper shapes ready for enameling to make jewelry evadesigns

Copper shapes formed and hammered.

Then if you are making large pieces (like my shells) you will be using the trivet method, not the “dangle it in the fire and dip” method. The first thing  is to counter enamel, after that’s done I think I’m at stage two.  (Counter enamel just means it’s the back side of the piece.)You get tons of firescale on the other side of the piece after counter enameling, you need to sand it off and clean the copper again. Often you actually get such wonderful looking colors that you don’t want to enamel the front side… There is such a thing as making art, even “paintings” with firing large pieces of copper. There are artists that make patterns and scenes with the fire alone.

copper jewelry evadesigns torch firing

Firescale cleaned off – aren’t the colors exciting!

So, anyway, to stage three. My stage three is the actual final enameling of the piece. It will be just the front if you are using the trivet method. Multiple layers, possibly using different colors. If you are doing your dipping method you are working on both sides together.  I do prefer the dipping, I use it whenever I can because by pointing the fire in different ways you get more variations of color just by heating the object more or less. Enamel colors have variations depending how much heat you apply to them. I find that the most interesting effects often happen with the dangly method and really playing with fire. Yes, it truly is playing with fire!

finished torch enameled copper pieces for jewelry evadesigns

Finished torch enameled pieces.


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Enameled Copper Pendants Inspired By Blue Hazy Sky

Enameled copper blue sky pendantI experimented enameling the pendant shapes inspired by the blue hazy beach sky (see previous post). These shapes are larger than I usually work with, but I wanted to create some new free form shapes and try something a little different.

There are limitations when you are working with a torch to enamel pieces this size, you really need a tripod. Well, I don’t have a tripod (after this experiment I am definitely getting one!), so I was holding the pieces with pliers. (Dangling them in the flame with a rod won’t work either, these shapes were too large for that.) So, the problem ended up being getting the counter side enameled properly and that’s where the tripod will come in handy. I am very happy though with my results on the front side.

Enameled copper pendant , 3 1/2 by 1 1/2 inch

Enameled 3 1/2 by 1 1/2 inch piece

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Enameled 2 3/4 inch piece

So how did it all go down? I first designed a couple of shapes on paper that I wanted to try to enamel. I cut them from 24g copper sheet and sanded and drilled the holes. I then hammered them with my texture hammer trying to make puffy round shapes in clusters. It’s pretty close to the bubbly fuzzies in the sky, but I’m sure there is some home made tool that might make shapes that are more like the real thing. I enameled them with my torch by holding the copper pieces with pliers.  The problem ended up being getting the back side properly done. I don’t have big enough containers for my enamels to dip the whole shape in so I ended up shifting the rest of the enamel on top. I used some cat whiskers on the narrow piece (you can see them in the middle on the right side) and I kind of like the effect it created.

I want to keep experimenting with these larger shapes, get a tripod and some more colors!