Report on Torch Firing Enamel Beads Workshop at Higham Hall

Harriet Sainsbury & Jane Sheppard

Severe weather conditions meant that it was a rather select group attending this 4 day workshop at the end of November/early December. We were delighted and also amazed that our Tutor, Janet Notman, had managed to get out of snowbound Edinburgh to drive over to Cumbria (the first 12 miles did take over 2 hours!). Some of us had 'interesting' daily journeys to and from Higham, others were able to take up the offer of staying over in spare accommodation. By far the biggest adventure though was seeing what marvellous effects torch firing the beads could produce.

We were all novices at torch firing although all had some experience of enamelling, even if only one previous course at Higham. Janet used the first evening to familiarise us with the torches (and all necessary safety procedures) and allowed us to practice handling various sized beads on the mandrels before demonstrating the coating and firing process. What a relief to realise that we could clean the beads in the torch flame rather than at the sink with abrasive and spit. Even the most nervous and inexperienced were quickly producing usable beads and learning what to do with less inspiring ones.