Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry "Virtual Book Tour" Stops Here!

Did you know that you can combine wire jewelry techniques with torch-fired enameling to make gorgeous beads—like the ones in the bracelet pictured above—in just minutes? I just recently discovered this, and I have one very special lady to thank: Barbara Lewis—artist, teacher, and author of the bestselling book Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry (North Light Books). You can order her new book now via amazon.com as a paperback ($14.99) or the kindle eBook edition ($9.99).
First, a little background: I've been making wire-art jewelry for over 10 years now, and I always give credit and thanks to my most influential teacher, Lynne Merchant. She taught me the basic techniques for making all types of wire components and pieces, which I've been combining in various ways to create my own jewelry designs ever since.
For a while I dabbled in other jewelry arts as well, learning to do peyote stitch and other beadwork patterns, PMC, all types of polymer clay beads, shrink plastic charms, resin, fabric beads, and metalsmithing. I briefly considered lampworking, but never delved into it due to the high cost of tools and materials needed to get set up.
A couple of years ago I was introduced to kiln-fired enameling, but it failed to pique my interest; too much time spent sifting on enamels and then waiting for them to fire in the kiln, I guess. It bored me, to be honest—although I loved the results my friends were getting with their enameled pieces.
Then I saw some of Barbara Lewis's torch-fired enamel jewelry and components (headpins, beads, etc.) and I was ON FIRE to learn this technique myself! I guess what really caught my attention was the immediate results you get from torch firing, the creative possibilities, the lack of fussy perfectionism (for example, I doubt that you can do cloisonne with a torch), the mind-blowing color combinations and the simplicity of the setup. And it's fairly inexpensive to get started.
Soon Barbara offered to send me a free signed copy of her book and asked her publisher, North Light Books (incidentally, they also published two of my books, Rubber Stamped Jewelry and Bead on a Wire), to send me a PDF preview of Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry so that I could post a review as soon as it became available.
I downloaded the PDF and read it cover-to-cover immediately, and what a fun read it was! Barbara has a very engaging style of writing that makes you feel very comfortable, as if you were right there with her in the studio going over the basics and then jumping into her creative projects.
My first experiments were with enameled headpins. It may seem to be a very small thing, but I simply love the little sparks of color you can add to your jewelry creations just by using enameled headpins. The earrings below are just one example:
Next, beads. I ordered Barbara's bead-pulling station system (highly recommend it, by the way!) and some of her metal beads, and literally within minutes I was torch-firing my own colorful beads. It really is that easy!
But I'm a "restless creative" type, never satisfied with doing what others have pioneered, always looking for ways to make something new. So I had to try making some torch-fired enamel wire beads and components. I have found that it can be done, but I've a few tips to share with those of you who might be interested in trying it yourself:
1. Use heavy-gauge wire only, such as 14ga, 12ga, 10ga, and even thicker. Finer gauges of wire are likely to melt under the heat of the torch before you can fuse the enamel to it.
2. Spray on some Klyr-Fire adhesive and allow it to dry to the tacky stage before enameling on wire components. Barbara recommends using clear fusing enamel instead of Klyr-Fire.
3. Don't use a butane torch for enameling. It will get hot enough to melt the enamel, this is true, but it also turns your beautiful enamels into an icky gray-green color—yuck! Use a map-gas torch or something similar to get the brilliant colors you're shooting for.
Here is a basic run-down of how I made my colorful cage beads pictured at the top of this post:
1. Make cage beads. If you don't know how, it's pretty easy and I demonstrate the process in close-up detail on my instructional DVD, Tribal Treasures Bracelet Workshop.
2. I recommend spraying on some Klyr-Fire (some enamelists use hairspray as an adhesive) or use some clear fusing enamel as your first coat. This way, your beads are prepared to take on colored enamels that won't chip off later. Allow the bead to dry to the tacky stage, and then sift on some white opaque enamel.
3. Heat the bead while it's on a steel mandrel (which does not conduct heat) until it glows bright orange.
4. Quickly dredge the hot bead through white opaque enamel again (Barbara is a Thompson's Enamel distributor, so you can get everything you need from her wonderful site: www.paintingwithfireartwear.com).
5. Reheat the bead to melt the enamel and fuse it permanently to the cage bead. Why white? Because any subsequent color enameled over it will be very bright and colorful, as compared to enameling colors directly onto copper. But don't take my word for it, experiment!
6. From here it's simply a matter of reheating the bead and dredging it into any enamel color(s) you like. Although it is true that opaque enamels will cover up colors fused to the bead previously, you can dredge portions of the cage in different colors and reheat the bead repeatedly until you have some beautiful color combinations in a single cage bead. See the photo above for examples.
7. To get your beads off the mandrel, I recommend Barbara's invention, the bead-pulling station. It works great and she provides an excellent tutorial on using it, or you can learn more about it by reading her book, Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry.
If you'd like to read my review of her groundbreaking, bestselling book, you can access it by clicking here.
I'd like to thank Barbara for allowing me to participate in her virtual book tour, it's been great fun! And she has lined up some wonderful prizes for those of you who like free stuff. Here's how to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post and become a follower = 1 chance
2. Tweeting, facebook or blogging about the giveaway and leaving a comment at the original Virtual Book Tour Post= 1 additional chance
3. While you’re at Barbara’s Blog, become a follower and leave a comment that you follow her blog = 1 additional chance
You can earn up to 3 chances per giveaway. A winner will be selected by 10 p.m. eastern time and announced the following day.
You can check at Barbara’s blog for the name of the winner.
To thank you for following along, Barbara is offering a BONUS PRIZE at the end of the book tour! All of the entries will be included in the drawing for a kit containing all the elements of “Floral Cascade,” one of the projects in the book. You’ll receive everything you need to make the necklace, including the chain, jump rings, clasp, enamel beads, and head pins!

Floral Cascade
For a chance to win the Grand Prize … a Torch-Firing Kit (or $110 shopping experience at www.paintingwithfireartwear.com) … please leave a review at Amazon.com by November 24.  Remember, leave an honest review … the book must stand on its own merits.
P.S. Unfortunately,  the giveaways are restricted to U.S. residents. Winners should contact Barbara  with their name and address through her author website: www.torchfiredenameljewelry.com so that you can receive your prizes!
Torch Firing Kit
If you missed any of the previous stops, go back and take a look:
October 6, Mary Jane Dodd, www.mairedodd.blogspot.com
October 7, Gaea Cannaday, www.gaeabeads.blogspot.com
October 8, Linda Larsen, www.objectsandelements.typepad.com
October 10, Andrew Thornton, www.andrew-thornton.blogspot.com
October 11, Lori Plyler, www.waterstonejewelry.blogspot.com
October 12, Diane Cook, www.rosa-josies.blogspot.com
October 13, Lori Anderson, http://www.prettythingsblog.com
October 14, LeAnn Weih, www.summersstudio.blogspot.com
October 15, Jen Judd Velasque, www.jenjuddrocks.blogspot.com
October 17, Melissa Meman, www.melissameman.blogspot.com
October 18, Lisa Crone, www.abeadaday.blogspot.com
October 19, Shannon LeVart, www.missficklemediacom.blogspot.com
October 20, Cindy Wimmer, www.sweetbeadstudio.com
October 21, Laura Twiford, www.souvenirsfromlife.blogspot.com
October 22, Erin Prais-Hintz, www.treasures-found.blogspot.com
October 24, Jennifer Cameron,  www.glassaddictions.com
October 25, Sharilyn Miller, www.sharilynmiller.com 

Happy wrapping,

Friday, October 21, 2011

What I've Been Working on Lately...

I have been super-busy in my studio lately, wrapping up unfinished projects such as the little vintage doll pin (she has a handmade pin on the back) that I started in Italy last month.
I decided that it would be fun to include this project in my next eBook, Arty Jewelry IV, so I stepped out the process with 60 closeup, step-by-step photos and detailed instructions. Now I'm at work finishing up the remaining eight projects to be included in Arty Jewelry IV, each project requiring dozens of photographs and instructions that I have been editing and proofreading over and over again... So that's what I've been up to lately!
Arty Jewelry IV will be ready to order via amazon.com and bn.com before Christmas. And if you would like personal instruction on making the Antique Dolly pendant (or pin), I'm teaching it at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert on 11-11-11.
I hope to see you there! Register for the class by calling 760-772-2400.
And here's a photo of my most recent obsession, enameling on wire beads! You will find a brief demo on this project here on my blog this coming Tuesday, when I take part in the virtual book tour for Barbara Lewis's incredible book, Torch Fired Enamel Jewelry. I wrote up a review of her book on amazon.com, and you can also access my review by clicking here.
I really love her book, and I've been using Barbara's techniques and generous advice to make some really cool and colorful things. What a wonderful way to jazz up your wire art jewelry!
Happy wrapping,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

NEW Wire-Woven Doll Pendant Workshop in Palm Desert

I'm teaching a new class on Nov. 11 (10 am to 4:30 pm) at Monica's Quilt & Bead Creations in Palm Desert!
This is a great workshop if you're into vintage doll torsos, beadwork, vintage buttons, and wire weaving. Learn to make a wire sculpture that incorporates an antique doll (Monica has some terrific ones for sale in her store!) and beadwork using your favorite small beads and antique buttons. We'll turn this sculptural doll into a pendant that can be worn as a unique necklace or put on display in a shadow box.
Monica has everything you need to make this piece: vintage doll torso, wire (silver and copper sold by the foot), beads, and some gorgeous vintage buttons. Once you register, you will receive a supply list.
The workshop fee is $80 plus materials.
To register for the workshop, call 760-772-2400.
Happy wrapping,

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Arty Jewelry III Now in Printed Full Color!

I've been working really hard this past week preparing the contents of my recently published eBook, Arty Jewelry III, for sale as a printed and bound book via www.blurb.com. It looks great, and I'm really proud of the final result! If you really wanted to get Arty Jewelry III but aren't quite ready for eBooks, I now offer this terrific resource as a conventional, bound book that you can order anytime!
Here are the facts:
• Arty Jewelry III in printed form is only available via blurb.com. For a direct link, click here.
• You can preview the first 15 pages for free by clicking here.
• The book measures 7x7 inches and includes 160 pages of full-color close-up photos and text in large fonts, making it very easy to follow the detailed instructions.
• The book is printed on top-quality premium paper.
• Nine jewelry projects are included. All the text for making all of the projects from the eBook version is included, and most of the step-by-step photos. A few photos had to be edited out to make the contents fit within the pages of a 160-page bound book.
• There is no instruction on basic techniques such as making wrapped eye-pin loops, etc. as can be found in the eBook version of Arty Jewelry III. Also, no discussion of tools. If these resources are important to you, I encourage you to download the eBook version from www.amazon.com or from www.barnesandnoble.com. The eBook is still on sale for just $7.99!
• The printed version of Arty Jewelry III retails for $40.59 (softcover) or $61.29 (hardcover image-wrap). Why so high? This is due to the fact that the book is a super high-end quality product made by print-on-demand technology, right here in the USA. I cannot compete with major book publishers who ship their products over to China and order thousands of books which are warehoused for years before they sell out. I'm not a major book publisher, I'm just an artist sharing her designs with others who would like to make beautiful and unusual wire jewelry creations.
• Regardless of what you pay for any of my books on blurb.com, my royalty per book is just $5.
I hope you enjoy Arty Jewelry III. If you'd like to see photos of all nine projects in this book, click here.
Happy wrapping,