Torch Fired Enamel

I am doing a lot of experimenting this summer while I can have the windows open and the fan system going.  Most of the enamels used below are old Thompson lead-based enamels that I wet pack.  Even when I use non-leaded enamels (like on the beads.  You can’t wet pack these; I use the dip and fire method),  I wear a respirator, and use eye protection. 

 It’s kind of tricky wet packing on curved surfaces but it can be done with a little practice.  I’ve tried Klyr Fire,  gum tragacanth, gum arabic and water as a binder.  I think I prefer the gum tragacanth.  I was wandering around in Dick Blick the other day and saw something in the ceramics department called Amaco Gum Solution.  The directions say it can be used for dry and wet enameling.  Since it sells for half the cost of Klyr-fire, I might give it a try in the future.


There are two relatively new Ning enameling groups.  One is Painting with Fire moderated by Barbara Lewis.  Her eagerly awaited (by me) book torch-fired enamel jewelry is due out in September.  The other group is  Grains of Glass moderated by Trish White.  This group attracts every level of  enamelist from all over the world.   I belong to both groups and highly recommend them.

Take a Peek into My Workshop

It’s been a while since Libby Mills  profiled my workshop in her blog’s Studio Snapshot series.  Since then, I’ve branched out into other mediums including felt,  do more metalsmithing,  and have acquired some new tools.

I am lucky enough to have a dedicated space for my work, but I live in a small house and purge regularly out of necessity.  This includes my workshop.  My current set up is the result of  regular purging and many wasted hours playing Tetris.

Here are some pictures of the ordered chaos.

New Ideas for Making Jewelry from Spoons

A couple of years ago, I posted a tutorial on making a bracelet from old spoons that proved to be quite popular.  Here are examples of more types of jewelry you can make from old spoons.

Here’s a torch enameled spoon bowl pendant that I drilled  for a jump ring before enameling.   The copper ring is a big jump ring soldered shut, hammered flat and textured.  When my friend Terri saw it, she remarked that she would have used the concave part of the spoon bowl instead of the convex side as I did.  Which opens up a bunch of new design possibilities that I plan to explore.

Here are two pairs of earrings made from different parts of the spoon handle.  First, I cut the pieces to the proper length and filed them smooth.  I filed a gentle curve on the top pair because I think it looks more attractive than a straight edge.  Then I drilled holes and filed off the burs.  I patinated them in liver of sulfur,  and made ear wires from fine silver on which I had previously balled the ends.  After inserting the wires through the holes in the earrings I gently hammered fhe balls flat so the  wire would stay in place and the earrings would hang  properly.  Finally, I smoothed the  other end of the wires with a cup bur in a rotary tool.