Enameled Copper Jewelry

It’s February.

My self-imposed winter break is over.

I took a break from the pottery studio (and Etsy and the blog) the last 2 weeks in December and the whole month of January.  After the maddening Christmas rush of 2012 when we were filling orders while also traveling in order to be with family, we decided this Christmas to shut down pottery production and orders in mid-December and enjoy some downtime.  What a wonderful Christmas we had in MS and AR, visiting with kids and grandkids and other family members.

I’ve spent the whole month of January piddling on several projects.  My brain needed a creative break from pottery production and shows and shipping.  I needed some time to work in other media; media that included some of my favorites – copper, glass, leather, yarn, beads and paint.

I’ll share photos of some of those projects in future posts, but today I want to show you the copper enamel tests I did while trying to learn how to fire enamels using a torch.  Traditionally, copper enameling is done using a small jewelry kiln, but I’ve been seeing blog posts and tutorials on torch-fired enamels and I just had to try it because I do love working with a torch.

I can’t even remember when or where I got the enamels.  I know they’ve made 2 moves with us because I remember packing them twice and wondering when I would have time to try them.  I love working with copper and silver and always thought enameling would be a fun technique.  Finally, I took a little time to experiment.

I got everything out and set up and only then did I realize I needed a canister of Mapp gas.  Argh!  All I had was my little Blazer butane torch and I really didn’t want to make the 15 mile trip to Lowe’s for the Mapp.

Blazer Butane Torch

I do love this little torch and have done some nice soldering with it, but I wasn’t sure it would get hot enough to melt the enamel on copper pieces bigger than 1.5″ or so.  I decided to try it on some small test pieces that I could glue to the tops of my enamel containers.  That way I can tell what color the fired enamels are, similar to making test tiles in clay.  The butane torch worked great for these.  Aren’t the colors pretty?  I particularly love that orchid color and the turquoise and kiwi.

Testing enamels_edited-1

Then I got brave and enameled a leaf pendant I had made many moons ago, after learning to saw and solder in one of Michael Johnson’s classes at The Bead Biz.  The pendant is about 2″ long and 1.5″ wide.  It pushed the capabilities of the butane torch, but I finally got a full melt.

After that, I had to try creating a pattern on some small earring components.  If I may say so, I think they turned out pretty well.  I used a piece of old metal florist ribbon with holes as a stencil when applying the turquoise over the kiwi.

Enameled Earrings and Pendant

Then, I ran out of butane.  Bummer.

I couldn’t enamel, but I did get several jewelry components cut out and sanded, ready for the next enameling session.

Copper components

Can’t wait to see how these turn out.  Hopefully the Mapp gas won’t be TOO hot.  If it is, I’ll try some propane.  I got this!

 

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