Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Playing with Fire"

I'm taking a little break from fiber art at the moment and indulging in another passion-jewelry.
I signed up for an online course with the lovely & talented Stephanie Lee to learn how to make soldered metal pendants & jewelry.
Above are a few that are almost finished. I need to drill holes for jumprings and for the ones with bezels I need to put a cute little picture in there and fill with resin.
The class started over 2 weeks ago but I had so many other things going on that I wasn't able to get to my metal cutting & torching until last Friday. My first attempt was pretty laughable, then I got the hang of it and these are turning out pretty good.
I worked very hard last Friday, as well as yesterday and most of today. I am using a hand-held butane torch because I need a small torch for this process. I DO have a larger heavy duty propane torch for larger projects that I absolutely LOVE. But this particular type of soldering needs a smaller hand-held. The torch came with an extra canister of butane luckily since I've done so much soldering. This after noon I ran out of butane altogether and ran to the nearest little hardware store to buy more. They didn't have the kind that came with it so I bought the only kind they had. Came home, put it in my torch and proceeded to get to work.
WELL, YOU SHOULD ALWAYS READ THE INSTRUCTIONS!  My particular little torch clearly states that you should ONLY use RONSON BUTANE. I didn't....
I was also having trouble with the trigger that automatically starts the torch so there's no need to light it.
So I'm not sure if the trouble was the trigger or the WRONG butane but my little torch got TORCHED!
Here it is now:
All melted. Luckily it didn't explode on me. And luckily I didn't get burned in the process. Also VERY fortunate that I happened to be working in the garage rather than my studio IN THE HOUSE!
 As soon as I pulled the trigger, flames started shooting out from the trigger area as well as the end of the torch. I immediately dropped it on the floor and kicked it away from me. Grabbed a piece of copper pipe and pushed it out of the garage and onto the driveway.
All the while it is continuing to burn!

I realized there was a fire extinguisher in the garage so I grabbed it and then realized I didn't know how to use it. Of course the instructions are on the canister but when you are a little freaked out about your torch blazing away in the driveway, you just start pulling and tugging without reading. After a couple attempts at trying to get the fire extinguisher to spray I actually READ the instructions. Really not that hard if you READ it first!
Lesson ONE: only use what the manufacturer recommends!
Lesson Two: ALWAYS use a torch outside or in an area with concrete floors!
Lesson Three: If the trigger isn't working--maybe there's something  wrong with it...just saying...
Lesson Four: If you don't have a fire extinguisher in your home-go out and buy one-then read the instructions so that if you ever need it, you'll know how to use it!
So here's a few more photos of the almost finished pendants.
And another:
And here are some pendants awaiting a new torch so that I can solder on the bezels:
I guess I'm going out tomorrow and buy another little butane torch. For now, I need to go explain the ordeal to my husband in a way that he doesn't put a moratorium on soldering or using a torch at all!
Wish me luck!

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