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Pitch fire?

Hi,

Yes, I have a million questions this week and I swear I always check
the archive first…

I think I am missing some subtlety in the process of taking a piece
out of pitch, removing the pitch, and annealing it. Am I just to
impatient? I read that the pitch should just turn to a gray ash and
come off. Well, for me it has caught on fire, (too hot I guess) or
done nothing but get glossy and stay mucky. I am using the black
pitch that came with a starter kit from rio. How long should it take
for pitch to turn to ash at a low temp?

Thanks,
Tracey
redsaturn20@gilanet.com

 I think I am missing some subtlety in the process of taking a
piece out of pitch, removing the pitch, and annealing it. 

Personally, I always just melted off the bulk of it, then wiped off
as much as I could of the rest with mineral spirits on a rag, instead
of burning it. Burning it off can be done, but it does burn, smoke,
and leave a residue of ash that’s not as clean as if you actually
remove the pitch. For smaller work, I use a wide mouth covered jar
filled with mineral spirits, and just soak the work. Doesn’t take
long unless your sitting there watching and twiddling your thumbs
waiting. instead, cover the jar, go work on something else for a
bit, and when you come back, the work will be clean. An ultrasonic
in which to suspend the jar will make it work a LOT faster. Do take
care to dry off the solvent before hitting it with a torch flame.

    Am I just to impatient? I read that the pitch should just turn
to a gray ash and come off. Well, for me it has caught on fire,
(too hot I guess) or done nothing but get glossy and stay mucky.20 

things turn to ash after the organic parts burn. It doesn’t just
somehow change from pitch to ash at a low temp. You are burning off
the organic component of the pitch. If there’s just a little surface
film, it won’t lead to actual flaming gobs of pitch, but it’s burning
even so. That’s why I always removed as much as I could first.
Burning it seems to messy and smoky…

 I am using the black pitch that came with a starter kit from rio.
How long should it take for pitch to turn to ash at a low temp? 

If you switch to the red or black GERMAN pitches that you can get
from Allcraft, or the black pitch sold by Northwest Pitchworks (I
think it’s still available, but not sure) you’ll find both of them
much easier to remove cleanly. The standard pitch sold in the US is
an alsphaltum based product. Messy, smelly, and burns at a somewhat
uncomfortably higher temp. The more costly but much more responsive
German chasing pitches or that from NW pitchworks are rosin or pine
resin based, easier to work with, easier to apply and remove, and if
you chose to burn off residues, it happens at a lower temp too.

Peter

If you left a turned up tab on the work piece, you apply a soft
flame to the metal and lift it out of the pitch by holding the tab
with old pliers or tweezers. Continue holding it about the pitch
bowl with the soft flame on it. Don’t forget to keep moving the
flame around. Let all the pitch possible drip back into the bowl.
Don’t try to burn it off unto no more will drip. What little remains
should burn off quickly and yes, there will be a bit of flame. The
gray pitch from Seattle Pitch Works is much cleaner to use and the
residue on the metal can be removed with baby oil.

marilyn smith

I drip and wipe off as much as I can while it’s warm. Then when I’m
annealing my metal, the remaining pitch residue burns then turns to
ash. When working on large chasings, I can time my hammering so that
the piece is popping off the pitch when it’s completely work hardened
anyway, so I can avoid much wiping and burning.

-Kirsten
www.kirstenskiles.com

Okay, I have to add in my “probably worthless” 2 cents. I only took
one course in repoussee at the community college and only did a few
pieces, so am totally inexperienced. However, we were taught to
spray the piece of silver that was to be repoussed with the cooking
spray Pam before putting it on the pitch.

We then pressed the piece into the softened pitch so it came up over
the edges a tiny bit. Let harden and had at it. When we removed
it, it came away with only a tiny bit of pitch along the edges which
was easily wiped off. What didn’t wipe off was simply torched away.

Incidentally, we also had very small pitch pots - they were actually
baking pans of heavy foil, not too deep. They worked great (were
certainly economical for a class situation).

Kay

Apply a thin coat of chapstick to the side of the piece that will be
in contact with the pitch, this will keep the pitch from sticking.
Use a heat gun to warm the pitch and place the piece, and use a heat
gun to remove the piece from the pitch. With one hand, grip the edge
of the piece with a pair of needle nose pliers and lift while aiming
the heat gun at the center of the piece. It will come away easily
with very little or no pitch stuck to it. Remove any stuck on pitch
by warming the metal with the heat gun and wiping it with mineral
oil on a cotton ball or paper towel. I took a workshop with Marsha
Lewis last year and this was some of the best advice she gave. It
saves so much time! I really recommened her book if you can’t take
her workshop. The pitch from Northwest Pitchworks is far superior to
the stuff you are using. It is much safer too.

http://www.northwestpitchworks.com/home_main.html

The usual disclaimers,
Kathy

Hello All Orchidians,

Having taken a workshop with Valentin Yotkov at his studio in
Brooklyn, I would recommend him most highly if you really want to
learn the art of chasing and repousse. He is expert. He is a
patient and skillful teacher, and he has the only school in the
United States to specialize in chasing and repousse. In order to
excel, you must learn from the best.

Check his site for upcoming workshops, and do yourself a favor;
learn from the Master.

Valentin Yotkov Studio @ Ganoksin

Assist others in searching for the right school. If you are looking
to expand your vocabulary in art, or the proper way to sharpen a
graver, we welcome your education experience.

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