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Enameled Heart Pendant

In my book, Discover Torch Enameling, I encourage designers to play around with differently-sized torches. This heart-themed project (one of my favorites!) requires the use of a larger, yet still accessible torch. My choice is the Bernzomatic MAP Pro Torch with trigger-start head. It is pretty lightweight, but a little more powerful than smaller torches. 

MATERIALS

  • 2 copper blanks: oval and heart shapes, in either 18-, 20-, or 22-gauge
  • 10–14 small stainless steel nails
  • Thompson 80 mesh lead-free enamels in the following colors:
    • 1995 Black 
    • 1940 Steel Gray 
    • 1920 Stump Gray 
    • 1870 Orient Red 
  • 1880 Flame Red 
  • Klyr-fire holding agent
  • E6000 adhesive
  • Jump ring and cord

TOOLS

  • Dapping block
  • Drill or hole punch
  • Hammer
  • Toothbrush
  • Penny Brite cleanser
  • Paintbrush
  • Small towel
  • Magazine sheets for sifting
  • Plastic bottle cap “stilt”
  • Sifter
  • Stainless steel trivet
  • Firebrick or kiln brick
  • Bernzomatic MAP Pro Torch
  • Locking tweezers
  • Fiber-handled tweezers
  • Finepoint tweezers
  • Bentnose pliers
  • Dust mask
  • Safety goggles

Copper blanks, Klyr-fire, and enamels can be purchased from Thompson Enamel, www.thompsonenamel.com.

INSTRUCTIONS

1. Prepare your copper blanks. You’ll use two pieces of copper in this project: an oval shape, and a smaller heart shape. Anneal your metal first to make it easier to shape, and then use a dapping block to add a slight dome to the heart.

For the oval, either drill or punch a hole near the top edge of the blank so you’ll have a place to attach a jump ring later. 

Clean the back side of both pieces with Penny Brite, water, and a toothbrush. Dry them thoroughly.

2. Counterenamel both pieces. Use black enamel to counterenamel the underside of the heart and the back of the oval. Brushing on Klyr-fire with a paintbrush will help the enamel adhere to the curved surface. I recommend counterenameling both pieces at the same time, as you’ll have the black out already.  

Allow both pieces to cool and then repeat the cleaning step to remove the firescale from the front side of the piece.  

3. Work on the large oval piece. Sift a layer of Steel Gray (or any other neutral color) on the front of the blank. Carefully transfer the project to the trivet, and fire until it is glossy. Allow it to cool. 

Sift another layer of enamel in a contrasting gray (I used Stump Gray). Place the piece on the trivet, and work on top of the firebrick. Using a finepoint tweezers, carefully place the nails into the dry enamel, with the sharp tips facing the center. Add nails until you have reached your desired arrangement. This can be tricky; should an accident happen, just dust the enamel off the blank and start again!

Once you’re satisfied with the arrangement of the nails, add a small amount of extra enamel over the tips and gently press the nails down one last time. 

4. Fire until fused. Light your torch and gently heat the piece from below. Take care not to jostle the piece. As the enamel fuses, the nails will settle into place. You can help set them in place by gently pressing down on the nails and still-hot enamel with the backside of the fiber-handled tweezers.  

Allow the project to cool slightly, then remove it from the trivet and set it aside to cool thoroughly.   

5. Enamel the heart. For my heart, I used two contrasting reds: Flame Red and Orient Red. Place your domed heart on either the tip of your index finger or a “stilt”—the cap from a plastic soda bottle. Paint on some Klyr-fire to hold the enamel in place, and sift on a base coat enamel color of your choice. On top of the base coat, add a small sprinkle of a contrasting red, just enough to add a little dimension to your heart. 

Transfer the heart to the trivet, place on the firebrick, and fire. Make sure the flame stays under the project until the enamel is fully fired and glossy. 

Allow the heart to cool, and remove it from the trivet.  

6. Assemble your pendant. Once both pieces are cool, use E6000 to glue the heart into place over the place where the nail tips cross. Use a pair of locking tweezers as a clamp to hold the pieces together while the glue sets, preferably overnight. 

Use a jump ring to attach your finished pendant to a piece of  leather cord, or perhaps consider making it festive artwork for your home!  

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More about Steven James
To learn more about torch enameling, check out Steven James's book Discover Torch Enameling. This Enameled Heart Pendant is a special bonus project that is not included in the book. However, the book contains another fabulous Valentine's Day project, the Hearts on Fire bracelet.

To learn more about enameling from Steven James in person, sign up for one of his classes at the Bead&Button Show. Here are two classes where you can learn a variety of enameling techniques, Discover Torch Enameling: Play Date and Discover Torch Enameling: Celebration Charm Bracelet.
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