Monday, September 1, 2014

Is there a problem?

Hello all!  I decided to create this little chart of "problem" beads,  to show what the enamel looks like on the beads after firing with different issues.  When you are just starting out with the immersion technique of torch firing enamel on iron and copper beads, these are typical things that can occur with the process.  

 Believe me, I had plenty of problem beads to pick from in my bin!  Don't be discouraged when you first begin.   You will get the beads stuck on the mandrel.  
You will have beads that are uneven.  You will have beads with vermiculite on them.  

But, as you fire and practice, you will get better at the coordination.  You will figure out your own rhythm and match it to the system.  Things like how long you need to leave it in the flame, when to dip it in enamel, when to move it to the bead pulling station and so on,  will soon become habit, I promise! 

My biggest advise is to be sure to move the bead when it is red hot: to the enamel for dipping, to pull it to the end of the mandrel or to the BPS for removal.  Another words, 
don't let your bead sit too long in any one position, once it gets red hot.  The process is quick.  

Typically a bead firing would go like this: 2-3 coats of opaque and 1 transparent, 
then to the BPS for removal, and cooling in vermiculite.  

Good luck as you learn and practice!  Be sure you have lots of mandrels on hand, and inexpensive beads to play with. Go to the stores with a magnet, and purchase some things to try.  Wear a mask when firing these items, as they may release fumes, and be careful, as they may burn. 
Most of all, have fun with the process! 

Contact me with any questions, or if you would like a hands on workshop, and are in the triad area of North Carolina, I would love to teach you! 


  1. Hi Laura,I am a beginner of Barbara Lewis method and I would like to know what is the material of mandrel. Thank you,
    you are very kind!!

  2. Hello Aldina,
    The mandrels are stainless steel. They conduct heat less than other metals, making it so that the end that we are holding while firing stays cool.


Thank you for your comments! I love to hear from you! Laura