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Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry - Quick, Easy and Affordable

Do you love the look of enamel pieces in jewelry but you've been discouraged from making them because of the tedious and labor-intensive process? Maybe you're turned off by the investment in a kiln and the associated tripods and other supports. Or perhaps you are daunted by the fussiness of cleaning copper and washing and sifting enamels. What if I told you that torch-fired enameling can solve all of these problems? That, for an investment of about $100, you could get all the necessary equipment for a start-up enamel studio, including a torch, several enamel colors, beads and bits of copper? That you didn't have to wash or sift enamels or scrub metal? Better yet, that, as a beginner, you could enamel sixty beads in an afternoon?

Well, that is what I'm telling you! No kidding!

Even beyond the initial excitement over its affordability and spontaneous approach, torch-fired enamel offers much creative potential. You can manipulate pieces in the open flame to produce enamel flows or burnt edges. You can coax pink and golden flashes to the surface of a piece by manipulating the balance of oxygen and fuel. Want a smoky haze over there, right next to that hole you punched? Go for it! Torch-fired enameling gives you creative control. From the minute you place a bead or pendant on your mandrel, you are making design decisions. You are intimately involved with your work. Your pieces never leave your sight to go into a kiln. Your approach is fluid, and your design decisions can be either spontaneous or planned.

What happens if you don't like the end result? Just re-fire it! Yes, you can do that, too! There are very few times in life when you get a do-over, but you've just found one of them!

Did I mention that it's also fun? It's the kind of fun that encourages play in the studio-the play of exploration! It was during a play session in the studio that I developed a heat rivet for delicate enamel. No hammering on glass required. Maybe you're interested in making bezels without solder, or making unique, etched beads from copper pipe.

My first goal is to get you comfortable with the open flame of a torch. We'll explore the types of enamels, their colors, and ways to modulate color. We'll discuss suitable metals that work with enamel.

The Japanese have an expression, "shibui," which means "happy accident." For me, shibui is when something is perfectly imperfect. It is the triumph of personality over perfection. It is when the pressure is off and we allow ourselves to play without qualification or judgment. It is when things click, when they feel right, and when we have the most intimate connection to our work. Can you recapture the days when play was your work, the work of the innocent? This is my invitation to you.

So, what is enamel anyway? The definition of enamel is glass on metal. Enamel, powdered glass, is fused to metal with heat. The process involves putting an iron or copper bead on a mandrel, which is a thin metal rod made of stainless steel. You can purchase these from your welding shop or online. At the welding shop they are called "tig welding wire." Get the appropriate sized mandrel for the hole of your bead. The mandrel should be approximately 9" long.

We're using Thompson Enamel, medium temperature/medium expansion, which is formulated for use on metal. It is 80 mesh, which refers to the particle size. Eighty mesh enamel looks like granulated sugar. We'll start with a nice opaque color... there are many to choose from. Place the enamel in a small ceramic bowl, Pyrex custard cup, or tin. This is the perfect way to recycle tuna fish, dog and cat food tins!

We did mention this was "torch" fired enamel? So we need an inexpensive torch with a bushy flame that we can attach to a 1 lb. canister of map gas. I use the Fire Works torch, which has a handy self-igniting feature and an adjustable dial for oxygen flow. You can obtain the torch for less than $30.

The other important piece of equipment is the bead pulling station, which is a U-shaped piece of heavy gauge aluminum with V notches cut out along the front edge. This simple piece of equipment allows us to remove the bead from the mandrel by placing our mandrel in the V notch with the bead on the inside wall of the bead pulling. When we pull our hand towards our body, the bead slides down the mandrel and falls into a bread pan that contains vermiculite, a non-flammable cushion for our hot bead.

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Antique Jewelry Appraisal - Smart Reasons For Hiring a Reputable Antique Jewelry Appraiser

Getting that jewelry appraisal for your antique earrings and other jewelries is very important for most smart collectors. Somehow it would seem like an antique appraiser provides that benefit equivalent to an antique certification to antique owners.

When an antique buyer go to a jewelry shop, he would usually get verbal assurance that a certain jewelry is indeed antique along with a lot of other stories to tell; however, beyond that verbal confirmation from an antique seller, how can he really tell that he's buying a fake antique?

Besides wanting confirmation that a piece of jewelry bought is antique, the following are the usual reasons for hiring an antique appraiser:

1. To learn about the age of the antique bought. We all know that 100 years is the age cutoff for any item or jewelry to be officially called antique. Somehow, it is all the more exciting to know if it is even beyond that 100 year mark because it lets you have a taste of history.

2. To learn about the antique's worth. Even though you have already gotten confirmation and appraisal of the jewelry being an antique, you would still want to keep current of that information. You'll never know how much your antique have already increased its worth and value over the years.

3. To have official documentation and ownership. Sometimes, ownership of an antique can be likened to ownership of land for the reason that you would usually need proof of ownership and appraisal especially when you are planning to buy or sell it. The documentation puts everything on record by the appraiser all pertinent information regarding the jewelry subjected to appraisal.

4. To be able to take care of insurance needs. Your insurance premium depends on how much the antique jewelry is appraised. Somehow, you won't get that true appraisal value through verbal appraisal.

For you to reap the benefits of an antique jewelry appraisal, you have to make sure that you are hiring a reputable antique appraiser. Make sure that the appraiser is a member of the American Society of Appraisers or the International Society of Appraisers.

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10 Amazing Ideas for Making Handmade Christmas Ornaments

Are you looking for an idea to make this Christmas most memorable? Interested in planning to decorate your Christmas three based on a theme? Try out these amazing ideas for making your own handmade Christmas ornaments. For many craft lovers it is a tradition to make new handmade ornaments for Holiday season. Why don't you try making some of them on your own?

    Easiest and handy tool for making Christmas ornaments is a tinsel pipe cleaner. You can just twist them into any shape to make snowflakes, angels or reindeer.

    Paper Quilling is another great art you can try out to make your own snowflake ornaments this Christmas. You just need a toothpick and paper strips to roll out amazing quilled Christmas ornaments.

    You can simply tie a ribbon on cookie cutter and hang them on your Kitchen Christmas tree.

    Wide variety of ribbons from satin to wire is available in gorgeous colors. Just fold them into a flower for twist them around a pencil to make your shining Christmas ornament. Using ribbon ornaments is an easy way to fill any themed Christmas tree with specific color.

    Floral wire can be twisted so easily to make holy words like joy, noel or peace! Spend some time decorating them with beads and ribbon and amaze your guest with your creativity.

    Have you ever wondered at shining crystal ornaments hanging on Christmas tree? Why not try making them on your own? Just buy some Swarovski bi cone crystal beads and slide them into a craft wire or floral wire to make a beaded snowflake.

    If you have small children why not start a tradition of making photo ornament every year! You can use ice cream sticks, Holiday embellishments and or just a kitchen foil to make your photo ornament.

    Wide variety of Christmas ornament making kits is available in the market. Beaded ornament, quilled ornament or polymer clay ornament making kits can make your Holiday season most amazing.

    Polymer Clay ornaments are very easy to make just by using cookie cutters like snowflake, gingerbread man or star. Embed colorful beads or crystal on them to make it more attractive.

    Clear glass ball looks wonderful when filled with tinsel to make jazzy ball ornament. You can even fill it with dried flower petals to make a potpourri ornament!Try using bead from your old dress or a broach. Take the beads out and fill a clear glass ball ornament.

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