The Honeymoon is over…

Yes, I had a torrid, albeit brief affair with torch firing enamel.  I spent several weeks doing just that and created a collection of beads and components that I’m fairly satisfied with – this pod pendant for instance.  I must say that I did enjoy the spontaneity and immediate gratification of the process, but the novelty has worn off. I’m not saying that I will never torch fire enamel again, because I’ll probably play with it another time.  But, I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t want to invest a lot of time in it.  There are several things I dislike about this method of adding color to metal.  One is that it is difficult to achieve precise coloration on a piece by dipping a bead into enamel powder and rolling the bead around in it.  Yes, you can put the metal on a trivet and stencil enamel onto it, but that’s not the look I’m after.  There are also fumes to deal with –adequate ventilation is a must!  Even lead-free enamels can contain cadmium, arsenic, and other harmful ingredients that should not be inhaled.  I was also amazed at how fast a tank of MAPP gas empties.  At $11 per tank, the cost of torch firing metal and achieving the quality of finish I want in my work does add up quickly.  I’ve decided that I’d rather play with other methods of metal coloration and there are quite a few.  Besides the obvious methods of applying patina to metal, consider roughing the surface of the metal and using color pencil, acrylic paint, or Gilders paste to enhance the piece.  A light coat of acrylic finish will protect the colors.  Another novel idea is to apply tiny shreds of colored tissue paper or collaged bits to the metal and then seal the surface with  a coat of resin.  If you put on your thinking cap, you’ll be amazed at the ideas you’ll come up with and  I promise that you won’t run the risk of burning your fingers!  

~ by BarbaraBriggsDesigns on February 13, 2012.

6 Responses to “The Honeymoon is over…”

  1. With all of the laest colors available I have had fun adding color to metal (and lots of other things!) with nail polish!! You apply then quickly wipe off what you don’t want, so some metal shows through. If you wipe off too much, then reapply or add another color. For a subtle shine I use polyacrylic varnish in semi-gloss.

  2. Hey Barbara! Great post. I’m thinking about enamels lately, and you mentioned the toxicity of torch firing them. I plan to use my kiln, and I’m curious if the issues of toxicity the same for kiln firing?

  3. (by the way, that weird browser problem I had when viewing your site in IE seems to have finally resolved itself…)

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