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Old 2013-01-20, 7:31am
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emoon emoon is offline
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Join Date: Dec 02, 2005
Location: South Carolina Lowcountry
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Default Fuming using metal leaf or foil

Fuming Glass Using Metal Foil or Leaf Material

Ok, here are some simple fuming instructions. Please make sure your exhaust is working on high and plenty of make up air is coming in from behind you. The fumes follow the exhaust air away from your face. Wearing a ventilator is always a good idea.

This is what works for me. Take a clear rod, (I use boro because it isn't shocky and will hold together after being repeatedly put in and out of the heat), and gather the end to about pea sized. Let it cool some and roll it in foil or leaf. Burnish the leaf/foil onto it and roll it again so you get pretty heavy coverage of metal on glass. The better it is burnished, the less burn-off you will lose. When it’s pretty well wrapped, rest it off to the side. Some people like to use silver wire or gold or silver grains but I find that this works well too, because the leaf is such a pure material without alloy to muck it up, and I have it on hand. DO NOT use sterling wire. This is best done with as pure a metal source as can be found.

Create your bead, vessel, whatever. Keep the bead warm in the outer reaches of the flame while introducing the metal wrapped rod back in with your other hand. The fuming rod should be to within an inch or so of the face of the torch. The fumes rise upward and beyond the rod so position your bead slightly above the flame to “catch” them. Around 3” out.

Generally, I can see a shift in the color of the outer reaches of the flame and rotate my bead there. (With gold you should see green flame.) The fuming begins in that sweet spot. For the first couple beads, I would really let the fuming accumulate a lot, so that you can learn to what extent it can go. Be patient, it isn’t instantaneous, but rather like painting the bead with fumes . So, rotate and tip your bead regularly so good and even coverage is achieved. (With silver the fuming rod may appear to spark. These are bits of silver burning off. Catch them on the bead if you can.)

Using gold leaf: Pale transparent pink or lavender moretti becomes quite vibrant and when fumed long enough, and gets a golden sheen on the bead. Very lovely. (see attached)

Using silver leaf: Make your bead out of dark ivory. Fume it repeatedly until it becomes deep mustard colored. The addition of silver fumes makes the outer “skin” on the bead more brittle. Let the bead cool a second or two, then reintroduce and heat up, not quite to the point of movement. Repeat. The surface will appear to age and crackle, like old china. The bead will look like aged parchment. I did a sculptural bead and before the crackle, the silver collected in the crevices and appeared white so the sculpture was deep yellow with white-wash in the recesses. Nice.

Try wrapping a black bead with ivory and fume it with silver. It gets kind of ethereal. Experiment with other colors. You can use the same fuming rods over and over, occasionally adding some new metal leaf/foil to them, to refresh.

Good Luck!

Melodie Lee, LeeBeads
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