I always choose my micro torch over the larger torch setup whenever it will do the job just as well. I like to work with fine silver, too, which is ideal for micro torch use. Perhaps I like fine silver because it allows me to use the micro torch, or perhaps I can use the micro torch because I usually use fine silver--who knows? (Chicken? Egg?)
Either way, if you want to try soldering and fusing metals but don't have the space, budget, or interest (or courage) for an acetylene or other jeweler's torch setup, a micro torch is a really great alternative. It's convenient, feels less intimidating, is easier to find and keep fueled up, and it's lightweight. Most of the things I want to do with a torch--fuse jump rings or fuse other wire loops into chain, make balled headpins, make bezels, solder average-sized projects--I can do with a micro torch, so I'm forever on the prowl for good micro-torch tips (and solutions for using a micro torch in lieu of the larger one)--not to mention projects that allow me to use it. Read on for some micro-torch tips and reminders--then see how to get 10 projects designed just for using a micro torch at the end.
1. Scraps of silver
almost instantly turn into perfectly round silver balls when heated with a micro torch. You can create silver accent balls in almost any size to embellish your wire or metal jewelry designs.
2. Fine silver will fuse to itself
without the use of solder. Fine silver also resists oxidation, so it will tarnish less and you won't have to clean and polish it as often. Fine silver wire + micro torch = hours and hours of handmade chain fun!
3. Create a safe, fireproof work-station by covering your work surface with a nonflammable surface, such as a large baking sheet. Even thought it's a little handheld micro torch, it's fire! Keep a bowl of water nearby to quench hot metals after fusing, flame painting, and annealing, just like with a "big" torch.
4. Did you know that you can use a micro torch (also known as a kitchen torch, mini torch, handheld torch, or a crème brûlée torch) to form balls on sterling silver, Argentium sterling, fine silver, or copper wire to make balled head pins
? You can use any wire gauge you need (larger gauges just take longer, of course, but it works just the same) and make them exactly the right length for your wire jewelry designs. Plus, you can hammer the ends flat later for paddle-shaped head pins, or secure them vertically in a vise with the ball just above the opening and tap gently to flatten the ball for regular head pins. Mucho moola saver!
5. Some metal clay can be fired with a micro torch
. This is the way I first discovered metal clay, and to me, it's the fun way to do it--I like to be in control of the situation (not possible with a kiln) and I like to watch the process happen.
6. Micro torches are so handy and easy to use, which makes annealing and flame-painting on metal quick and simple work. If you're doing a project that requires frequent annealing, or if you love experimenting with metal in a flame to create just the right colors, keep your micro torch handy for those tasks and save the big torch (and its more costly fuel) for soldering.
Now put your micro-torch knowledge to use with the 10 Easy Wire Projects Using a Micro Torch eBook from Step-by-Step Wire Jewelry magazine!
Bonus video tutorial: Watch and learn as Denise Peck shares how to fuse wire links using a micro torch. The chain-making possibilities will keep you busy for weeks!
Filed under: chain maille, jewelry design, metal clay, stone setting, silver jewelry making, metalsmithing, soldering, jewelry making, micro torch, jewelry tools, jewelry artist, Wire Jewelry Making, Jewelry Supplies