TorchFire Studio

Fine Handmade Jewelry Crafted in Huntsville, Alabama

Preventing Fire Scale with Fire Coat

How-To, Jewelry MakingCara MossComment
Magic Flame Soldering Compound, What is Firecoat, how to use firecoat, firescale, jewelry making classes TorchFire Studio Huntsville, Al

Happy Wednesday! Let's talk about a basic process you need to follow at the bench: fire coating your pieces to prevent fire scale. 

What is fire scale? This is an unsightly layer of black cupric oxide that forms on the surface of copper-bearing metals when heated (think sterling silver, gold alloys). A stubborn layer of nickel can also form on white gold alloys. This mottled black layer can be very difficult to remove even after pickling your pieces.

So what's to be done? Fire coat that jewelry!

Fire coating is a process in which you apply a protective layer of boric acid solution to the metal before soldering or annealing. It turns into a glass-like covering when heated and prevents the formation of fire scale. Most discoloration should be removed with a quick bath in the pickling solution. 

My favorite fire coat is Magic Flame 4-in-1 Soldering Compound. This pretty pink paste packs a punch; it contains boric acid, borax, and sodium fluoborate. 

You can use this magic solution 4 ways:

1. Dip: Add magic Flame to denatured alcohol. This makes a fire scale resistant coating. Add as much Magic Flame as you want to get an even heavier coating.
2. Liquid Flux: Add Magic Flame to a small amount of water to create a great Gold and Silver Flux.
3. Paste Flux: Use Magic Flame full strength as a great Paste Flux.
4. Casting Flux: Use Magic Flame full strength for a superior Casting Flux

Magic Flame and denatured alcohol burn off in a colorful, quick flame, leaving behind a powdery layer of protection.

Like most chemicals in this line of work, use eye protection and work in a well ventilated area. Wash hands after use. My most helpful bit of advice **from experience** is to be cautious if using alcohol near your torch! (I am woman enough to admit to setting a fire coat brush on fire!)

This compound may not be the cheapest, and will probably have a decent shipping charge, but it is worth every penny! 

Where to purchase: Stuller Amazon  Jeweler's Supplies

Why I Love My Job!

Handmade BusinessCara Moss4 Comments

Let's do a little exercise, shall we? 

Close your eyes and imagine a place, anywhere on this little blue speck of ours, that makes you happy. Are you there? I bet it's lovely. 

For one newly-hooded PhD, her favorite place is a spot in the middle of the ocean... She's an oceanographer and a climate scientist!

This talented woman was gifted one of my coordinates rings for her graduation. It's a simple silver band with lots of meaning : latitude and longitude coordinates are stamped into the metal as a reminder of your special place. 

The gift-giver on this occasion was the PhD's mother, Laura. She sent me a thank-you note after the ceremony and it absolutely made my week! 

Hi Cara,

I've just returned from my trip out of town to witness my daughter's dissertation and PhD hooding and couldn't wait to write to let you know how BEAUTIFUL the ring is that you made for her and that she LOVES LOVES LOVES it!  And even more importantly I want to let you know how grateful I was that you went ABOVE and BEYOND to get the ring made and shipped so quickly -- it arrived the afternoon BEFORE her dissertation, which was totally unexpected, but perfect - she wore it for good luck!  I didn't expect to receive it until the following week, at the earliest, so it was a very nice surprise. The box was beautifully wrapped, which I'm not sure you routinely do either, and it was exactly 'HER', if you know what I mean.  She's a scientist, yes, but she's also a lifelong dancer, so the 'girly' touch with the pink bow and the delicate tissue was just the right touch!  I couldn't have done a better job if I'd wrapped it myself :)

Well, I've gone on and on long enough, but I had to let you know how much I appreciated your unbelievable customer service -- can't find that much anywhere these days.

Thanks again!

This letter from Laura is one of the many reasons that I love my job! It's always an honor to make meaningful jewelry that can become a real part of someone's life. I love to imagine all of the lovely people wearing the items I've made; I hope every piece is part of a happy story that is as precious as that little ring of silver. 

Customized coordinates rings in sterling silver. 

Customized coordinates rings in sterling silver. 

The Origins of TorchFire Studio

Handmade BusinessCara Moss1 Comment

In the spring of 2012 I was a newlywed in a strange town. 

We had moved from our hometown for my husband's job, and I was alone, Ben worked a lot, and I felt absolutely uninspired. I'd had zero luck finding a job using my college English degree. (I know, I know!) 

One weekend Mom came to visit and we took a jewelry making class - we created a simple pair of enameled copper earrings. I really loved the process: sawing out the metal. forming the earwires, and using flame to transform the enamel. After the class was over, I had so many more questions and a desire to learn more. Finally, something had fired my imagination (no pun intended!) I grabbed my laptop and read a million articles, scoured YouTube for videos and I taught myself to solder at my kitchen table. 

As time went on, I made a few things that I thought were good enough to share. I opened an Etsy shop and sold a few items that I made with copper, silver and some silver clay. My items and photography were far from perfect and there were giant holes in my skill set. However, in those early days, I had a few wonderful customers that made me feel that I was on the right track. 

One particular couple requested some chunky silver rings with a gold interior. I used what skills I had and learned about the Keum Boo technique in the process. The resulting rings made my lovely customers so happy; they sent me a long thank you note and included some extra money marked "to be used for champagne"! 

Custom Sterling Silver and Keum Boo Rings .

Custom Sterling Silver and Keum Boo Rings .

Keum Boo & Sterling Silver Ring. 

Keum Boo & Sterling Silver Ring. 

This experience really spurred on my newfound love for creating jewelry. 

Today I have been running my business for almost 5 years, selling online and now in my own studio inside the wonderful Lowe Mill Arts & Entertainment facility.  I have taken  professional courses to round out my skills, and I can't wait to learn more.  In my vocation and in my life, I want to always keep learning. 

Workshops Now Available!

Sales and Promotions, My Studio, How-ToCara MossComment

Hello, Friends! For those of you close to Huntsville, Alabama, I'm now offering workshops in my studio! The first on offer is a soldering basics course on June 23 from 6-8 pm. You'll learn how to solder with a butane torch, and you'll make and take home a pair of sterling silver earrings. 

Only six spots are available for this workshop, but more will be scheduled in the future! 

To learn more, click the photo below or visit the "Workshops" section of the site.  

I hope to see you there!