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,


justthecook said...


thank you for post here! I have a couple of your books, but have not followed you blog, so I will now! I love how you have used Barbara's technique with your wire beads, and with the bouquet of head pins on the earrings! thank you!!!

fireflymyst said...

Great blog posting!!

mrs beadsley said...

I loves these caged beads - and thanks so much for sharing how you did them - I am definitely going to have to give them a try!

SueBeads said...

Thanks for the tutorial!

SummersStudio said...

Those beads of yours are amazing.

Millie @ ammjewelry said...

I'm a big fan of both your and Barbara's works and follow your blogs! Thank you, Sharilyn for sharing this tutorial, it opens doors to many possibilities and ideas for the PWF techniques! Can't wait to go play.

I'll be waiting for the Virtual Book Tour Part Two...hint, hint.

Enjoy your day!

Lynnea B said...

love those caged beads! I've been a fan of Barbara for a few months and have loved experimenting with the enamels. Now I may have to try this too!

vdumas said...

Great DIY steps for the Caged Beads!! I'll never look at copper wire the same again.

Alice said...

I just love these colorful caged beads! Thanks so much for the tips!

What a great review of the boog as well.

Kristen said...

Oh my from this review and tutorial I can actually see how to create and that there is a possibility I can do it! What a great review!

Christine said...

Gorgeous cage beads!! Thanks for the review!

Cori Marie said...

I love these caged beads! Such wonderful inspiration. I also have started to follow your blog!

Anonymous said...

I like this blog post, you pass on a lot of information you learned by doing. Thanks

A Crafty Lawyer said...

I'm sad that the blog tour is at an end -- it's been wonderful discovering so many new blogs, and seeing the creative uses for torch-fired enamels.

For My Sweet Daughter said...

Those cage beads are awesome.
I have to say I am a big star struck being here on your blog. You see last week I was cleaning out my huge book collection when I realized all the books I love and cannot part with are yours.
Thanks for sharing your secret to making those beads I cannot wait to give them a go.
Shannon C

Lucid Moon Studio said...

That's a really cool idea with the caged beads! Thanks for the tips too. I tried torch fired enameling recently and had a problem with the enamel chipping off, so I'll try your suggestion.

bludawgdesigns said...

Your caged beads are great! I love how you used the "torch by fire" method with your own style. I have several of your books and they're all wonderful and so full of knowledge and inspiration. Thanks for the tutorial on the caged beads.

KayzKreationz said...

I love your work and your review. I just got her book and have been reading it every night. I'm into the projects now and can't wait to get my kit so I can start trying it. I also have several of your books and love them. I've used so many of your components and ideas in my work. And I love these cage beads. I don't have the tutorial for them, but will check it out. I'm a follower of your blog, too. Can't wait to read more of your posts.

KayzKreationz said...

Just tweeted about your review and the book tour.

KayzKreationz said...

I also posted about your review and work on my facebook page. I'm also a follower of your blog and Barbara's. You both have some great work and posts.


Debora Mauser said...

I have admired your wire work for a long time and now your addition of color! Wow!

Cinder says said...

I am so glad to learn about your blog! I am now a follower.

Thank you for the tutorial for creating caged beads, they are so fun!
I am going to give it a try. There are so many possibilities to work with enamel with Barbara's method.
This is so exciting!

TesoriTrovati said...

Greetings Miss Sharilyn! SO glad that you joined us on this tour. I would have felt cheated to miss out on your sweet tutorial. I love those cage beads! And your tips are spot on. I haven't tried it yet myself, but I hopefully will in the coming year and I can't wait to explore the possibilities. I love the tips you provided and will bookmark this post to come back when I have my torch in hand!
Enjoy the day.
P.S. Obviously, as a stop on the tour I can't win, but I wanted to stop by and say hi!

The Crazier Sister said...

Just became a follower of your blog. Already am a follower of Barbara's (SO exciting!) Already posted about the tour on my blog (10/10/11 It Pays To Be Crazy) and it also uploads to my FB page. It's all been exciting and fun, meeting new people, reading about their creative styles as well as what they've learned from Barbara's book. Just fun!

Cynthia said...

Thank you for the tutorial of the enameled wire cage beads. I think I'll give it a try!
I'm now a follower of your blog.

shelley said...

very cool beads...thanks for the tut...very helpful...play well

Jennifer Cameron said...

Thanks for the great tut! It's given me a few more ideas to try. I am so glad to find you have a blog as I didn't think to ever check. This book tour was really fun and I'm so glad you participated.

Secret Squirrel Designs said...

Thank you for the tutorial....your caged beads are fantastic and I know what I'm going to be doing this afternoon. I've been a fan for a long time, your wirework tachniques have inspired many of my pieces and I thank you again for sharing.
Mary Kelly-Stobert

Deb's Artful Journey said...

I absolutely LOVE these beads!! Thanks for sharing!

Erin S said...

great info, and I love the enameled cage bead idea!

LindaK said...

Thank you for your tips! I just became a follower and look forward to more great blogs.

Pearl and Pebble said...

These are just amazing beads! I just became a follower too:)

Janea aka Naya said...

Love the Cage Bead idea! Thank you for sharing your work with us.

I am now following your blog:)

Shoshana from The Art Corner said...

Awesome Beads, Awesome bracelet, Awesome earrings, Awesome book review. Awesome tutorial. Love you books and your work.

Hugs for sharing:)

Great to be able to follow your blog now too:)

Patti Van said...

Thanks for the tutorial! Your caged beads are beautiful!!

Lois Moon said...

Enameling wire for beads - what a fantastic idea! They are beautiful.

LuniLadi said...

OMG what a great idea!!! I have several of your books and would NEVER have thought to enamel *caged* beads!! I definitely will be trying this.
Doreen aka LuniLadi

moonlitfantaseas said...

wow I love those cage beads! thank you for the tutorial! I am now a follower of your blog!

Shirley said...

Ok, I thought I posted earlier, but I don't see it now! Anyway, those are just the coolest beads ever! I'm so glad you showed us one more awesome way to use this technique.

Theresa said...

I too am among your admirers and now a follower of your blog. Thank you for your generosity in sharing such a great technique with the cage beads. I agree with you that the undercoat of white makes the top colors pop.

Carole said...

I love what you have done with Barbara's technique. I am now following your blog. I love all your work, btw.

CreationsbyKari said...

Thanks so much for the great demo with instructions and pics! Love the spiral cage beads you made :) Have added myself to your list of followers, sad to see this tour end, it was so much fun!

Boot ~C said...

these are so awesome! everytime I see a new thing to enamel I am blown away all over again!

Cindy said...

Sharilyn, I enjoyed your review of Barbara's book. You highlight some great points about the book, as well as some of the helpful tools involved such as the bead-pulling station. What a neat take on enameling - using our own caged beads! They are really colorful and add such a unique twist to wirework!

Carol said...

Wonderful review of a GREAT book! Love the cage beads and glass pins! Thanks for sharing!

Suzanne said...

A great tutorial, thank you. The beads are beautiful

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jeaniesbeads said...

Guess I missed that giveaway! Great looking springy enamels! I'm ready to try them. I'm loving your blog mini tuts!