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Enamelling by torch

Hi, Just wanted to know if any good resources were available on this
topic, and whether it is appropriate to torch enamel with an LPG/OXY
torch set up. I am in Australia, so that may make a difference in
advice possibly. I am looking for good books on this and any other
forms of instruction available. I note that Jamie King and K.O’Brien
both do this however kiln firing seems still to be most common.
Thanks in advance,

Kath, Oz.


It seems like torch fire is growing in popularity and I have a
friend Chris Heirholzer whom is very successful with it. He achieves
perfectly clear transparent enamels using Thompson’s unleadeds with
a mapp gas torch.

Firing from underneath and keeping distance from the piece he slowly
brings up the heat an fuses the enamels. He has images posted on Good luck!

Patsy Croft

Hi Kathy,

Though I’m no expert, torch fired enamel is something I’ve been
playing with quite a bit lately. It is really so much fun. You can do
it with a propane/oxy set up and a large (rosebud) tip, but even
more low tech is the plumbers torch which I use mostly to conserve
on the more expensive gas/air that my Smith torch uses.

You will also need a tripod with a screen because you will be
heating the enamel piece from the bottom. Also a trivet, because you
will also want to counter enamel. A friend and I call it “caveman
enameling” because of how we do it. Take your copper piece, sift some
powdered enamels on, add strings or lumps if you choose, and torch it
till you see it melt. You can torch it several times till you get
the colors and effect you like. Also, it is not something I would
want to do for cloisonne, or an other technique that is more
precise, but who knows, some one out there might be doing exactly

You just gotta go for it. It’s very exciting and fun!

Patsy & Michelle, Thankyou so much for taking the time to respond,
much appreciated. I hate to appear dense, but could you please
explain what a plumber’s torch is, a mapp gas torch and a rosebud
tip? I have a #5 torch tip on oxy/lpg as mentioned previously, but am
happy to change to something more appropriate as I am serious about
pursuing enamelling with a torch and I’m just trying to put things in
place to begin experimenting. I’m very excited by the possibilities,
so thank you again for your help.

Cheers, Kath.


I am not sure if I got back to you on my blog or not. I would
recommend Linda Darty’s The Art Of Enameling. She is a professor at
SUNY and uses her book as a text book. From discussing he methods
with a friend who is a student there, she seems absolutely
brilliant. She teaches in a way that I didn’t learn in school. She
is open to experimenting, which is just what you need to do. This
book can be found on Amazon

Happy Enameling! You will love it and become addicted.

Best, Kim

Hey Kath,

Regarding your post on torch firing enamels, first I have bought
torch equipment and gas canister from a gas supplier in town. Look in
the directory for companies that sell gases = propane, mapp or
acetylene. They usually carry these torch handles and tips. And here
you can buy the canister from the hardware store. If you can not find
it there sells them. Just use their search= mapp gas

Chris Hierholzer uses a torch for making cloisonne enamels and Carmen
Lombardi uses one for plique a jour enamels. There is a demo of both
under cloisonne techniques and plique a jour techniques on my site

Good luck and have fun enameling.

Patsy Croft

Hi Kathy, I just took a torch firing workshop at Thompson Enamels
last weekend. The Mapp gas was used with a glass, lamp-workers bead
torch, with “rosebud” config. ie, a lot of holes in a flower petal
arrangement, or circle. Large hot flame, blue in color is produced,
and clean burning compared to my air-acetylene ‘presto-lite’ torch
(plumbers torch.) It would fire the very thin tooled 3-d shapes in
copper he demoed in 1-2 min. I think it’s a Hot-Spot, if I recall,
and was $30 there. Can do a couple torches to work a larger, over 3"
piece. Put on a stainless steel mesh for enameling on a tall holder,
lab-bracket. Fire from below.

CAREFUL: don’t upend the torch/ tank or it spits out a very scary
long tongue of yellow flame from the liquid getting to the torch
stem. Eyebrows and more !

The torch was very like the berzomatic propane types in hardware
stores that screw onto a propane tank. Mapp comes in a similiar but
yellow tank at our local Tractor and Feed store. The large bushy
blue flame was ideal for this, I plan to show our local metal arts
guild what I learned. I have a couple kilns, and a BFA in enameling
in a past life,and now pulled them out to get ready to have a happy
old age! But the raku and torching workshop was great in pulling back
from the anal, fussy, very precise work in some styles of enamels I

Also, he demoed a method with a garage -sale turkey fryer burner and
a large ‘weed-burner’ torch, both on large BBQ tanks of propane. The
large panels could be laid on the metal grate, held hot from below,
and the larger, 3-4" diam torch with long stem of 3ft, and hose to
the tank, heats from top, melting the enamel.

We didn’t have a large panel to work, but did fire small one to show
the setup. Opens up real possibilities for me! Contact me off list if
it’s not clear.

Terry Brake

I just wanted to point out that I said Linda Darty taught at SUNY
and that was a huge error. I believe I typed my reply late at night
or before morning coffee. She is a professor at East Carolina
University in Greenville, NC. Sorry for the mistake and thanks to
those who brought it to my attention!

Best, Kim

Thanks all, I really appreciate everyone’s help. Kim - don’t worry,
living in Australia, I had no idea what SUNY meant anyway so I was
grateful for your help and completely ignorant of your error from a
coffee depleted mental state, thanks again and I am simply awaiting
the arrival of some technical books I’ve ordered, and then it’s all
systems go so to speak.

Cheers, Kath.


I started torch enameling because I wasn’t sure that I wanted to
become involved in enameling at the level that a kiln would involve
($$). Once I started, I liked the instant gratification and the
challenge of making my own way on something where there was little

One key thing I discovered, documented in a 1950’s book, is the
importance of avoiding a direct flame on the powdered enamel. Wait
until it begins to melt before putting the flame onto the enamel.

I also built a “kiln” (upside-down insulated metal pan) resting on a
fireproof platform with a hole in the center of the platform. I
insert the torch through the hole in the bottom of the platform. The
Kiln has a slit where I can watch the enamel melting (use proper
glasses). The “kiln” isn’t necessary for torch enameling, but it
does help capture the heat and develop the enamel more quickly and

I added photos of my homemade kiln to my photobucket account to give
you a better idea what I’m talking about.

So, get some enamel and give it a try. Cheap, easy & loads of fun.


Oh, the power of Orchid!! I referenced my photos of torch enameling
on last night’s Orchid list, so I checked today at noon to see if
anyone had viewed the album. Imagine my surprise when it showed 464
people had viewed the link. Wow!! Now I wish I’d put a little more
effort into it (both the product and the photos). Oops.



What a layout of a studio. I am really impressed and could hardly
take my eyes off all the pictures, soaking up all the wonderful
things you have created. Your work station is incredible!

Thanks for sharing the enameling setups and everything else.

Rose Marie Christison

Rose Marie,

Thank you for your kind words. FYI, the “cheapskate” solution that
I’m proudest of is my homemade dust collector for my bench polisher.
For a home studio, the pro-bench polisher was pricey enough, but the
pro-dust collector with hood was out of the question. I fabricated my
own. From McMaster’s, I ordered flexible and stiff transparent
plastic sheet (impact resistant) and fabricated hoods for the right
and left buffs (using tiny nuts and bolts). From Lowe’s, I bought
flexible hose, “y” joints and gates to connect to my small $30
cannister vaccum cleaner. It’s no beauty, but it works well, and I
really like the transparent hoods.

Again, thanks.

What a layout of a studio. I am really impressed 

I am in awe of anyone who can manage this kind of organization. I
think I lack a crucial gene… Somehow, I just can’t seem to make it
happen in my own space.

One further handicap to making my studio compact and efficient is my
unwillingness to face a wall instead of a window.