Make Lampwork-Like Glass Head Pins Using Enamel and a Torch
A few years after I learned to do it, enameling (by torch) is still my favorite jewelry-making technique, and I’m always looking for new ways to use enamels in jewelry making and new enameling products to try. So I was really interested when I saw our friend Barbara Lewis of Painting With Fire Studio post a video on Facebook of her son David Lewis making enamel flower head pins . . . using only 6/20 mesh* enamel, wire, a torch, and pliers.
First, David made regular round enameled head pins using 80 and then 6/20 mesh. “I had played around with making copper head pins using 80-mesh enamel with much success, but it seemed a bit tedious when I was trying to create larger head pins,” David says. “I love the look of 6/20 mesh over copper pendants and beads, so I figured I would give it a shot with the head pins.
|Photos courtesy of Barbara Lewis.|
“One of the first things I noticed when firing was how wonderfully gravity helped in forming the head pin. When the 6/20 is melting onto the copper head pin, gravity has a tendency to pull the glass downward and transform it into a beautiful rain drop of glass. It all seemed so very simple and it truly was!”
After making round enamel (glass) head pins, David was inspired to go one step further and give some shape to the ball of glass on the head pin. “The next step was to create a flower with this lovely gather of glass!” David says. “We have an imported . . . and very expensive . . . brass press in the studio that can squeeze the glass into a flower shape.” David knew some of their students wouldn’t have room in their budget for such a pricey gadget, so he improvised. “I grabbed some pliers and started pulling at the (hot) ball of glass. With little effort, a flower was created.”
You can watch David make enameled head pins and flower head pins in Painting With Fire Studio’s video, below. (When you click the image, a new YouTube window will open where you can view the video. Note that the video starts a little loud because of the noise of the flame.)
The end result looks like lampwork glass flower head pins! Though I’ve only gotten to try lampworking once, I loved it and welcome the opportunity to create something similar using products I already have. Plus the 6/20 mesh enameled head pins–both the round and the flower ones–are pretty and so versatile for jewelry making. “Head pins and glass flowers made with 6/20 Thompson enamel truly make for some exceptional jewelry components,” David says. “Even after a design is completed, you can add a bit of color to the composition by wrapping some glass flowers or enameled head pins in just the right spots!”
For more enameling fun, grab Barbara Lewis’s new torch-fired enameling book, Mastering Torch-Fired Enamel Jewelry: The Next Steps in Painting With Fire. (There’s a step-by-step tutorial for making enamel flower head pins in it, along with sooo many gorgeous enamel jewelry projects using beyond-basics techniques.) Barbara’s first enameling book, Torch-Fired Enamel Basics, is the beautiful book that started my enameling love affair–don’t miss the sequel!
* Definition of 6/20 mesh enamel: Small pebble-like pieces of glass. All grains of glass will go through a screening mesh with 6 openings per linear inch, but none will go through a mesh with 20 openings per linear inch.