Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Hot Dragonfly

I got a new toy to play with the other day. It's my new butane torch. Now, I've had a torch for many years. When I was in cooking school we used big, propane torches to do all kinds of things: heating pans for removing cheesecakes or frozen desserts; burning meringue for a perfect key lime pie; and of course burning the tops of creme brulee. I did that for 200 plated desserts at a restaurant when I was the pastry chef there. There's no way you can't feel macho wielding a propane blowtorch. So when I wanted my own torch for cooking at home, of course the big propane daddy was the way to go. No wimpy Williams-Sonoma creme brulee torch for me! I'd be re-filling that baby constantly.

Fast forward a few years, and now I'm using my torch for soldering, coloring metal, and creating beads on wire. I learned torch-fired soldering in a class in a bead store, using the little butane torches. Well, at home of course I was going to use my big macho torch. I set up a safe area on my dining room table by laying down a 12" square tile, placing a fire brick on top, and I was good to go. Until I lit that torch and blew little balls of solder all across my beautiful table! It was like mercury balls running around, only these were red hot. Luckily, I didn't burn the table. From then on, I did all my torch work outside on the patio.

After ten years, the torch for my propane canister has finally died. I had to make that trip to Home Depot for a replacement. And what do I see? The wimpy little torches have grown up! I see the butane torches are stronger, have multiple tips, and can refill easily. I have now un-machoed myself, and will be using this smaller torch. Just the canister of my older one was bigger than it!

I tried my new torch the other day when I wanted to heat some copper pieces to give them a little color. Much to my surprise, I can use this little guy in the house right at my art table! I'm still a safety girl, but it's just not the big, honking thing the other one was. I don't think I'm at risk of accidentally lighting anything else around. And it has an easy "off" button -- the other one you had to twist the dial to turn it off. I'll definitely be using this more, especially when I just want to quickly heat up one thing.

After all this talk off torching, here's a photo of what I made. I cut out wing shapes from 24 guage copper, then torched them for a nice mottled effect. I "sewed" them together with 28 guage wire, then sewed on a little bead I made using yarn, wire and beads. Together they make a nice little dragonfly.

I made this dragonfly to go on a necklace that was started by Carol Moore. She wanted a nature theme, and she started it with a beautiful focal piece -- check out her copper butterfly wing with attached key and resined bezel photo. She said the drilling of the key to attach the rivets was quite an adventure. I'm impressed with how well she cut the copper around her etching of a butterfly stamp. In a month, after one more addition, she'll get her beautiful necklace back. I hope she likes this sneak preview!

This was a fun dragonfly to make -- you may see some more in future creations.


Cindy said...

Wow, you and your torches go way back! Thanks for sharing...I have a butane torch just sitting here ready to go..don't know why I've been so reluctant to give it a try. I've used a HotHeat for lampwork beads so this should be easier, right?
Your dragonfly is amazing!! What a great idea and wonderful addition to the RR necklace.

Beverly Ash Gilbert said...

Great torch story - creativity and dessert - fabulous mix. Would love to see some of your dessert creations and can just picture you with a huge torch and a tiny creme brulee!

Your dragonfly is wonderful!

Jill Berry said...

Love this and would actually wear it!
I have a song suggestion for you based on your list. It is "Shame" by the Avett Brothers.
Thanks for coming to my blog. See you here again!